Tell us about the Munich bar scene.
The Munich bar scene started with Harry’s New York Bar, where bartenders such as Charles Schumann and I started. Schumann went on to open the famous Schumann’s Bar at Maximilianstrasse in 1982.
There is Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, but Munich’s bar scene is the most popular in Germany. We have a lot of spirit producers in Bavaria and also a huge tradition for alcohol, beer and food.
How have societal trends affected Munich’s bar scene?
The economic downturn didn’t affect us in any way. We still have our regular guests and also people from around the world are visiting our bar and all the other bars in Munich. People still go out every day and especially on Thursdays. The history behind this is that in earlier times rich people showed others that they can afford going out not only on weekends.
We know Munich for its beer, sausages and football. Do you struggle to change this perception and make locals (and visitors) appreciate the cocktail culture?
We are proud of our culture – we love the famous Wiesn (Octoberfest)– it is all a part of our tradition. But when you visit Munich you will see how creative the bartenders are. There are pre-Prohibition cocktails through to their own creations, which are just fabulous.
What new Munich bars should we know about and what are the old favourites?
The old favourites are Schumann’s but also places such as Pusser’s New York Bar (formerly Harry’s New York Bar), Mauro’s Negroni Club, Jahreszeiten Bar at the Hotel Vier, Bar Tabacco and Trader Vic’s.
My favourite bars are Zephyr, Die Goldene, Bar Reichenbach, Les Fleur du mal (1st floor at Schumann’s) and Gabanyi Bar.
What are the spirits and cocktail trends in Munich?
People have started making their own tonics, ginger ales, sodas and bitter lemons. Gins, ryes and bourbons, but also vodka is becoming again more popular.
Different kinds of vermouth are getting more and more into Munich’s bars. We have a huge market called Viktualienmarkt – one of the biggest in Europe, where you can find all kinds of fruits and herbs.
Cocktail trends in Munich go with the season. We work with a lot of herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables as we do in the kitchen. Also we have started using techniques from the kitchen such as sous vide.
Are there any new ingredients – perhaps local – that you or other bartenders are using right now?
We use everything that can be combined with alcohol or liquid.
We have a lot of local herbs which we use in cocktails but also we buy ingredients from far away.
Who are the famous bartenders of Munich, what are they famous for?
Charles Schumann – founder and owner of Schumann’s Bar and author of many bar books.
Then there’s Bill Deck, owner of Pusser’s New York Bar; Mauro Mahjoub – owner of Mauro’s Negroni Club – who has a collection of around 3,500 bar books and is brand ambassador for Campari.
Where does Munich’s bar scene draw its inspiration? Are most bartenders domestically trained?
Every bartender is well trained as bartenders here and they are very interested in living the bar culture themselves – talking about spirits and cocktails at meetings organised by themselves.
What are your hopes for Munich’s bar scene? And what needs to change for it to become more recognised?
Munich is getting more recognised every day, every week, every month and every year. As people start travelling beyond Berlin, we do our best to get consumers, media and bartenders from all around the world to Munich to see this lovely city and its crazy bartenders.