January is finally over and those who remained faithful and abstained from alcohol can rejoice as a pop-up of one of the world’s top ranked bars is here to welcome them back to fold. Named the 44th best bar in the world at World’s 50 Best Bar Awards 2017, and the only Swedish one to make the list, Linje Tio has set up residence in 100 Wardour Street to bring some Scandinavian flare to Soho. Sated dropped by to check it out.
A team of three mixologists from the bar in the heart of Stockholm – who have accompanied their signature creations to the capital – expertly strain, mix, stir and pour cocktails from a select list of eight tipples. The team have only brought a slice of the full menu to London and have sadly had to leave the Swedish glacial ice used in their drinks at home. Whilst Head Bartender Jimmie Hulth assures us that the cocktail list back home is far more impressive in the “mother bar”, we are excited to try those that have made it to the big smoke.
A cosy affair, waiters circulate the dimly lit, intimate venue with trays of the signature drinks and canapés which can be easily plucked whilst on their short circuit around a central sliver of wall. Hundred of bottles and drinking paraphernalia adorn the wall and plump stools ring tables facing banquettes along the edges. In one corner, a man with a laptop proceeds to play an eclectic mix of tunes, including Britney Spears’ covers and nearly-forgotten noughties band Hard-Fi.
Once we are seated, our first drink – Salty Caramel – is served. Despite a name more akin to a dessert it is nothing but sweet. Served in an Old Fashioned short glass, the majority of space is taken up by what the menu describes as “big ice”, accompanied by Hennessy Fine Cognac, Manzanilla sherry, Amaro Nonino, rock candy syrup and walnut bitters. The drink is strong and packs a punch, the cognac coming through first with its fruit, light honey and spicy cinnamon. The Amaro, an Italian grappa-based digestif with notes of bitter orange, compliments the Hennessey and adds to the smooth, rich and bitter taste.
Next up is one of Linje Tio’s staple drinks, Beets by Tjoget, presented to us as a Scandinavian take on the Pina Colada. Created with beet-infused Absolut Vodka, coconut syrup – which gives it the Pina Colada character – ginger, lemon and nutmeg, the pink drink is served in a graceful coupette.
The next cocktail that finds its way to us is the illusive Pink Rhino. Served in a highball with a frosted rim, it channels a margarita with its salty edge. The frosting itself is no ordinary salt but is crunchy and gives the drink a richer overall flavour. Made with Tanqueray, rose pepper, lemon, grenadine, grapefruit soda and sumac, the drink is light, fruity and elegant, peppered with tart flavours.
As the night progresses, we sample the Manhattan Project, made with Johnny Walker Black, Madeira wine, Tequila Blanco (100% agave), grenadine, lime tincture and honey. Blended to resemble a smoothie, the tequila is sweetened by the honey, rounding the drink off nicely.
The most expensive drink on the menu, La Nuit at £14, which is similar to the Salty Caramel but with smoky depths and less boozy power. Made with Diplomatico 12 YO, Hennessey Fine de Cognac, PX Sherry, orange and cinnamon bitters and capers, it is all served up on “big ice” once more.
The Open Sesame reminds us of a White Russian crossed with an Espresso Martini but the sesame gives it distinctly nutty taste. Comprised of Blantons Bourbon, Swedish Punsch, Kahlua, espresso and sesame syrup, is a true delight.
Despite the array of flavours on offer, Venue Manager Romain Rousset confesses to us that whilst being fond of the Pink Rhino, his favourite drink is the So Fresh So Clean – a non-alcoholic beverage that does its name justice.
The Linje Tio team will be spending a week at No.100 (until 10th February), multitasking to also pop-up next door to The Den where they will reside until 7th February.
Jimmie expresses his excitement at being part of the London bar culture for a short time. “We don’t focus on the look of the drink, instead the flavours and taste in the glass, and having a good time. If we’re having fun, we will enjoy the drink. For us, atmosphere is super important,” he states whilst nonchalantly whipping up cocktails with enviable flare. Despite his lack of interest in the aesthetics, Linje Tio’s drinks are certainly still Instagrammable.
Music to Londoners’ ears, and for anyone not yet persuaded to sample a Swedish staple, he added: “We try to make drinks as fast as possible and not have people waiting for cocktails.”
The Linje Tio takeover is at both 100 Wardour Street (31st January – 10th February) and The Den (31st January – 7th February).
Words by Rebecca Flood