The team behind Sweden’s Tjoget bar, a regular name on the World’s Best 50 Bars list, hope to replicate its success in Asia through the launch of a partnership with the flagship bar of Hong Kong’s Kerry Hotel under the theme Midnight Sun by Red Sugar.
The name is a reference to the long summer days experienced in the northern hemisphere.
“You get a unique feeling when you go out drinking in the summer months in Sweden,” says Niklas Forslin, a member of the Stockholm bar’s staff who will be head bartender under the partnership. “You look up at the sky, the sun is still up but it’s the middle of the night. That’s the feeling I want to bring to Hong Kong.”
Forslin has been working for Tjoget for 10 years and was part of the team when the bar was named on the World’s Best 50 Bars list in 2016. He is now part of the Tjoget Project, the bar’s spin-off platform dedicated to taking its name and reputation to the world stage through different initiatives.
The bar at the hotel in Hung Hom, Hong Kong, is one of its latest projects.
“We want to take our Scandinavian vision, the way we see cocktails and service, basically how it worked at home, and bring it to Hong Kong and Asia,” Forslin says.
Forslin aims to transform Red Sugar into a destination bar like Tjoget.
“We’re a very vibrant kind of place,” the award-winning bartender says of the bar in Stockholm, Sweden’s capital. “During the weekdays, the atmosphere is very relaxed. We have good service, cocktails, food, and a great wine programme. Everything’s top-notch.
“Then on Fridays and Saturdays after 11 it becomes one of the best nightclubs in Stockholm and then it’s just a big party that goes until 3am. So it’s amazing.”
Discussions for the partnership started over a year ago and Forslin has been in Hong Kong for more than two months setting things up.
“It’s been a ride,” he says. “It’s not just the food and drinks that’s different, it’s everything. In Sweden, the culture is very casual and straightforward.
“I noticed there is a very big cultural difference in communication. Where I’m used to just saying what I need or want to do back home, it might take four or five steps before I can get an answer here.”
How will these cultural differences translate into the experience at Midnight Sun? “I have a very classic background and at Tjoget we start with the classics and we break it down from there,” Forslin says. “It’s going to be a mix of classics with the Scandi spin alongside Asian flavours.
“We’re using lingonberry, which is a sour red berry, and also blackcurrants, which will add some sweeter flavours. We’re also using passion fruit, which is more exotic for me, and pomelo is in one of our signature cocktails.”
Forslin has proved that with any bar, it’s the man with the shaker that makes the difference.
The Post tried a Beetroot cocktail, which is based on a whisky sour and uses Naked Malt blended scotch infused with chocolate that is mixed with beetroot syrup and topped with egg white.
The result is a well-balanced, sweet concoction that’s anchored by the slight bitterness of the chocolate and rounded off by the bouquet of whisky.
“Our drinks here at Midnight Sun are going to be different from home. What we are focusing on is good drinks first,” Forslin says.