Yvonne Tran is a talented bartender who had recently moved to Stockholm when I first met her during jury duty on the Linie The Journey cocktail competition. After a couple of months at one of the best cocktails bars in Old Town she’s now to be found in another part of town at one of my favourite bars – find out where below, cheers!
What made you pursue a career in hospitality and how did you get your first bartender job?
It was really just by chance. I started as a waitress at the local pub. We also had a nightclub upstairs which was quite busy and the bartenders looked like they had a lot of fun, so I asked the bar mananger of the time if he could teach me some stuff behind the bar, and he did! And on that road it was..!
Where are you originally from, and how did you end up at Corner Club?
I’m from a small town in Småland called Värnamo, which only had one place to go out and that was where I was working. In 2014 I moved to London to pursue a career behind the bar. I was a bit obsessed with cocktails and especially the history of cocktails. And it was there, through mutual bartending friends, that I heard about Corner Club. So when I decided to move to Stockholm I sent a mail to Kaitlin (ex BM at CC), who decided to take me on board as Head Bartender!
What are your plans now that you have left Corner Club?
I recently started to work at one of my all time favourite spots – Svartengrens!
|Photo © Sofia Castensson|
Which place/places has/have been most important regarding your knowledge and skills?
For me, I think my first work place back home taught me a priceless skill of hosting. Since it was a small town, we had a lot of regulars, which are (in my opinion) the backbone of a place, and they expected a certain level of service which always kept me on my toes and challenged me to be my very best everyday at work.
When it comes to knowledge and skills behind the bar I cannot help but mention my last work place in London – Evans and Peel Detective Agency, a speakeasy bar in the heart of Earl’s Court. I was working with a bartender named Simon who truly was a cocktail encyclopedia. We geeked it out quite a lot with menus, and he was the one who thaught me everything from chipping spheres with ice picks to the importance of knowing and understanding the product you’re using.
Which is our favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?
I don’t have a least favourite drink to do – I like to do all drinks! But I have come to enjoy doing Irish Coffees quite a lot lately.. I don’t have a clue why though!
How would you describe the perfect customer?
Everybody who walks in the door, looking to have a good time.
What’s the weirdest drink order you’ve gotten?
I’m not sure if it qualifies as weird but I once had a guest who expected me to make her a drink she had last time she was at the bar and the only clues she gave me was that the glass was cold and it had lime in it.
What do you like most about your job?
Everything from brainstorming ideas for drinks to having a chat about why it’s always raining in Stockholm with guests by the bar.
Do you have any special bartending skills you’re extra proud of?
I can’t think of anything right now… Maybe that I’m really good at remembering names of guests? Or that I am quite organized..!
How do you spend your spare time?
With my plants, family, friends. Eating, drinking, cooking, training and a whole bunch of other stuff!
What do you drink when off duty?
Earl grey tea with oatmilk and honey. Or a Negroni.
What do you have in your private liquor cabinet?
Not much at all. I have a little project going on to build a home bar with only vintage tools. It started when I found a smoking table from the 30’s. So a lot of focus has been put in the bar rather than the bottles. But so far I have a bottle of bourbon, gin, aquavit, some liquoures, bitters and red wine.
What upcoming cocktail trends do you think we can expect in the near future?
Non alcoholic and no waste. Both are trendy and for good causes. Also, I really hope that bar and kitchen will work even more together in the future!
|Photo © Trader Magnus|
Which are your favourite bars/bartenders around the world and why?
Two of my favourite bars are The Connaught bar in Mayfair and The Pink Chihuahua in Soho, London. Very different in most ways but I have always had a good time in both places.
In your opinion, how does the bar scene in Stockholm compare to the rest of Sweden and internationally?
I think we are growing and the bartenders here are super skilled. Stockholm is without a doubt the cocktail city of Sweden but we still have a far way to go internationally. We are a small city compared to e.g London or New York but with hard work and hunger I think we will do more brilliant things.
What are your thoughts regarding cocktail competitions in general?
I’m no expert, I’ve ever only done one competition. But I think it’s a good shout out for the bar and gives you a nice challenge to focus on. It also allow you to have an oportunity to see how other fellow bartenders work.
You’re currently involved in the Linie Aquavit cocktail competition – tell us all about it!
Linie The Journey was a fun experience that turned out to be very good for me. My drink ‘Head in the Clouds’ was awarded first place and I was given the possibility to make my own Aquavit at the Arcus distillery outside of Oslo, with the guidance of master distiller Ivan. A dream come true for a bartender. My aquavit is now aging across the world and expecting to be launched this fall.
How do you come up with new cocktail recipes and what inspires you?
I try to think out of a ‘guest view’. What do they expect of me and the bar? I often have to remind myself that I’m not creating drinks for bartenders but for regular people who may not know of the latest update on ice temperature. But not to be forgotten, all details matter. That is what makes a good bartender. Attention to details.
I have a little list that I try to stick to;
1. What do I want the drink to taste like?
2. What texture do I want to achieve?
3. What mood does the drink set?
4. Is this the best version of this drink or can I do better?
5. Make the drink and then wait two days and try it again.
6. Sit down and have the whole drink. Does it taste good until the last drop?
Which of your signature drinks, if any, and what else in your career are you most proud of so far?
I must say I’m really proud of ‘Head in the Clouds’ for it made one of my bartender dreams come true!
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Working with drinks one way or another! Or maybe with history..
Would you like to share one of your own recipes?
Of course! One of the drinks I made when still working at Evans and Peel was really fun and represents me quite well as person. It includes Smith x Cross, sherry and a pun!
40 ml Pandan infused Plantantion 5
15 ml Amontillado sherry
7.5 ml Antica Formula
7.5 ml Smith x Cross
7.5 ml sugar syrup
2 dashes saline solution
Stir and serve straight up!