Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stockholm: Absolut Art

We last left you upon our departure from the epic and wintery Ice Hotel in Kiruna, Sweden.  Next stop, Stockholm, to get a glimpse at the art and design behind Absolut.

We landed in Stockholm very very grubby from our icy retreat, and suddenly found ourselves in the incredibly stylish and hip art hotel The Lydmar Hotel.  Beautiful people filled the lobby, enjoying apertifs and the lovely afternoon.

Springtime in Sweden

Lobby Lounge before the Cocktails
The rooms were gorgeous, each one styled differently, and they all had epic views over the city of Stockholm.  Quickly to the shower with you, Miss Emerson!  I opted for a bath, over looking the water and the sunset upon the city, and proceeded to swoon loudly as I dipped into the sanctuary of hot water.

The View from my Bath
Our first stop of the evening was at the Absolut Atelier - a stunning space designed by the Absolut team for events and gatherings.  It's in the oldest part of the city, and occupies the location of an old bank (read, soaring ceilings, gorgeous detailing, and stone finishes).  The space has a handsome bar stocked for the most rowdy of fetes, and has a number of lounges for patrons to relax and enjoy.  There's a test kitchen, and a small "apartment" to give the feel of home (or the most epic house party ever!).  It's basically the most impressive of party pads one could imagine, and furnished with Scandinavian furniture and lighting.  Absolut was very conscious about highlighting Scandanavian design - not only because it is so damn good, but also to to support local industry and the arts!

Atelier Lounge - Art Books and Handsome Sofas
The basement of the Atelier has a lounge that features a ceiling of Absolut bottles, a beautiful installation of scientific beakers and tubes, and a neon sign reading "one source".  There was also a speakeasy room just for Absolut Elyx.  The back room highlights the copper theme from the Tom Dixon light fixtures to the copper bar.  Surely Elyx tastes better in a copper room! (It does).

After a lovely Vodka Sour, we were off to dinner at Tjoget - a lively place filled with more beautiful people (I'm getting the feeling everyone is gorgeous in this country).  We dined in the private dining room at Roy & Son, a space that functions by day as a Barber Shop, and a restaurant by night.

Vodka Sour: Heaven
An epic meal was had: We started with charcutarie and pickled vegetables, sauteed baby squids, ENORMOUS ribs that made even the burliest of men feel like a small wee lad, cooked vegetables, and a dessert of blood orange ice cream topped with hazelnuts and mint.

But the night was not over, dear readers, we had many bars to visit.  We started off at Häktet Vänster - a speakeasy bar that used to be a women's holding cell.  With an impressive cocktail list, we knew we were in good hands - I opted for a K-O for You with Light Rum, Chili Infused Green Chartreuse (!!), Lemon Honey, Xocolatl Mole Bitters, and a Mezcal Rinse.  Heaven.

I also had a taste of the El Barrio Flip: Mezcal, Benedictine DOM, Vanilla Infused Agave Syrup, Egg, Xocolatl Mole Bitters, and Cinnamon.  So delicious.

They had this vintage perfume bottle filled with Absinthe on the bar.  I might have applied some as my Eau de Absinthe that evening - maybe.  Or I might just have to do this at home, so i may smell like Absinthe all the time...

A Little Spritz of Eau de Absinthe?  Don't Mind if I Do..
The second bar we went to was a nice beer and cocktail lounge tucked away inside of another club.  Do I remember the name of it?  No.  Did I know my own name at this time?  Barely.

Ah, Stockholm at Dusk
So the next morning was a bit rough...

But it was time to visit the Spritmuseum!  I thought that the Spritmuseum would have been a collection of the legendary ads, but instead it was a collection of works of art made by prominent artists from all over the world for Absolut Vodka.  Incredibly, Absolut has hired artists to produce works for the company since the company's beginning.   These artists had a distinct role in defining the brand of one that was creative, artistic, and cool, and subsequently, everyone drank Absolut Vodka!

When Absolut was in the process of being sold to Pernod-Ricard, the collection was isolated and kept within Sweden's holdings.  The museum was built  to house the collection, and does a brilliant job of telling the story of how Absolut became so interested in art, supporting artists, and the strategy for brand building.  The collection has a whopping 850 pieces, which are rotated through the museum with curated shows.  We saw the Face It! selection, featuring street artists, film artists, neon artists, and of course, that famous Warhol that started it all.

After touring the collection we sat for a gorgeous lunch of steak and salads, and basked in light of such a gorgeous day.  After a long winter of darkness, the Swedish people were out and about, happy to have the light upon them!

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll through the city, stopping into the lovely department stores and other boutique shops.  Taste, is something the Swedish people do not lack.  We stopped into the ever hip store Acne and oops, i might have bought a purse, you know, because i needed it.  (I didn't).  But it's gorgeous, and made from that handsome Swedish leather.

Then to the hotel to relax for a bit before dinner.

What's the best way to end an incredible week of travel?  With a baller dinner at a Two Michelin Star restaurant, obviously.  We stumbled next door to Mathias Dahlgren, greeted by a grand entrance, and a screen with images of viking ships, gas masks, bows and arrows, and spatchulas cut into it.  This screen was so gorgeous and gold, I'm still obsessing over it.

Instead of a solely a wine pairing we also had a beer pairing, something I've never done before, but was quite delicious.  We started the evening with a glass of Marie Courtin Polisot Champagne and a salad of Beets & Jerusalem Artichoke with Truffle, watercress and hazelnuts.  For the second course we had the Mathias Dahlgren house Easter Brew paired with the Matjes Herring and pickled vegetables with an egg yolk, garden cress, and browned butter.  Behold:

Matjes Herring with Pickled Vegetables, Egg Yolk, Garden Cress, and Browned Butter

Next was the Williams Bros Brewing Ginger Beer paired with a Momofuku steamed pork bun with spicy apples, pickled cucumbers, and crispy onions.  Wait, what?  Momofuku in Stockholm?  Yes, you heard me, it was a collaboration between chef Chang and chef Dahlgren, and it was delicious. 

Momofuku in Sweden?  Mind Blown.
The fourth course was a pairing of Macon-Chaintre Vieille Vigne '09 and the Steamed Skrei cod from Lofoten served with brussel sprouts, soy hollandaise, and browned butter.  Also delicious.  The sauce was dreamy, buttery and savory and paired so nicely with the cod.  Finally, dessert: Douceur Angevine '06 paired with Almonds, rum and milk with meringue, sea salt, and caramel.  Gorgeous.

Skrei Cod with Brussel Sprouts, Soy Hollandaise, and Browned Butter
After dinner we relaxed at the hotel for a drink or two, and then made our way to bed.  Morning was coming too quickly, and there were early pickups for the airport.

Oh Sweden, you never fail to impress.  With your gorgeous people, beautiful architecture, flawless design, handsome animals, and oh yes, that amazing vodka that will forever remind me of you.  That said, I think it's time for a Absolut Elyx martini..


Want more?

Absolut Vodka Distillery Tour
Absolut Elyx Distillery Tour - The new Absolut Vodka (and it's delicious).
Ice Hotel: Dog Sleds, Ice Bars, Reindeer Fillets

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