A drink isn't just a drink. The bar alchemists of today stir, shake and decorate their creations for Hamburg's sipping scene with scientific precision.
Photos: Kevin McElvaney
Egg white becomes a creamy foam, a few citrus-peel extracts on the glass's rim charm nose and palate, the ice comes crushed, the size of a baby's fist, stacked.
Betty Kupsa runs the “Chug Club” in St. Pauli. The mixologist with the multi-coloured arms has been an important authority on Hamburg's bar culture for the last 20 years. Betty has also been awarded the title of “Barwoman of the Year” by Falstaff magazine.
Betty recommends bars where every drink is a top-quality, sophisticated experience, eloquent of a love of detail and of ingredients.
For example, at the dripBAR or the Rabbithole near the Reeperbahn, hard liquor drips hour after hour over beetroot, oak chips or gingerbread, absorbing their flavours. The process creates drinks that are heavy and sweet, light and fresh, smoky and rounded. The Le Lion in the city centre and the Jahreszeiten Bar on the Alster are akin to libraries of spirituous liquors – cosy, dark and dim-lit. “To me, drinking is an absolutely private and intimate thing,” says Betty Kupsa. Further along the Alster, sundowners can be enjoyed on the roof terrace of the DaCaio, with a view over the water. On balmy summer evenings, Hamburg residents congregate far from the tourist crowds outside the Walrus Bar in Wohlwillstraße.
“A few years ago, there were very few independent bars in the city – in other words, ones that aren't attached to a hotel,” says Betty. The bar scene has changed quite a bit since, next to high-class hotel bars there's fresh, young concepts emerging. Hamburg's bar culture: a good mix.
Betty's Bar tips
The Walrus Bar