When Bartenders Talk - Monica Berg
In our new book Where Bartenders Drink 300 expert drink-makers reveal 750 spots across 60 countries
Monica Berg is an award-winning bartender, author and co-founder of P(our), a not-for-profit organization devoted to exploring new ideas, sharing information, and exchanging inspiration within the global drinks industry. She achieved critical acclaim for her seasonal aquavit and was awarded the Linie Honorary Award in 2015, for her services to and for Norwegian food and drink culture.
She's also one of the high profile contributors to our new book new book Where Bartenders Drink. In it, the best 300 expert drink-makers share their secrets - 750 spots spread across 60 countries - revealing where they go for a drink throughout the world when they're off-duty. Venues range from late-night establishments and legendary hotel bars to cosy neighbourhood 'locals' - often in some very surprising locales.
The 750 expert recommendations come with insightful reviews, key information, specially commissioned maps, and an easy-to-navigate geographical organization.
Written and compiled by the native New Yorker Adrienne Stillman, the co-founder, editor-in-chief, and event director of Dipsology, a curated digital guide and online community for cocktail enthusiasts, it's pretty much the only guide you need to ensure that you get the best drinks in the most memorable global locations.
Over the past few weeks we've been interviewing some of the bartenders in it. Today we're talking with Monica.
Where are you from and and how did you get into this line of work? I'm from Oslo, Norway but currently live in London. I started working in the hospitality industry at 15, but it wasn’t until I was 18 that I first stepped behind the bar - albeit by mistake, as in Norway you need to be 20 before you’re allowed to serve alcohol that is not beer or wine. I knew from that moment that I wanted to be a bartender, so the tougher bit was probably to have patience and wait until I was old enough. Luckily, with a dash of creativity, I managed to find a solution, which involved moving abroad at the age of 19, and working in a bar there until I was old enough to go back and work behind the bar in Norway.
What's the one thing about being a bartender that would surprise people? The amount of cleaning you need to do, and probably the amount of prep that needs to be done before you can actually open the doors and serve your guests.
What's your favourite cocktail to make and why do you like making it? To be honest, I dont have one particular favourite drink to make, rather I’d say that I enjoy making drinks my guests enjoy to drink. My favourite moments behind the bar are always when you are able to make something that surpasses the expectations, whether its a G&T, Daiquiri or Old Fashioned.
Do cocktails go in and out of fashion? I don't think cocktails necessarily go in and out of fashion, but there are definitely changes in how people drink and what they drink. I think low alcohol and non alcohol drinks are becoming more popular, and I also see a lot of bars and bartenders creating drinks that really reflect the time and place in which they are created. I think we will see more emphasis on preserving local identity in drinks in the future.
What do you do when you’re not mixing? I love cooking! I have always been fascinated with flavour, and I love exploring new ingredients, but I also love the act of cooking for other people. I think this is also one of the things that I love about bartending, the opportunity to take care of people and to give them experiences and (flavour) memories. I find food and eating to be very bonding, and I always feel very happy when I can cook for people I love.
Check out Where Bartenders Drink in the store and check back in the coming days for another interview with one of its star mixologists.