DID YOU KNOW THAT NORWAY HAS ONE OF THE 50 BEST BARS IN THE WORLD? IF YOUR ANSWER IS NO, YOU BETTER HURRY UP AND GET TO HIMKOK IN OSLO!
But be prepared: Himkok isn´t exactly inspired by Las Vegas when it comes to marketing. There are no neon signs or glossy advertisements for the bar ranked as the 42nd best in the world – just a tiny brass sign the size of a Post-it-note next to a tiny call button to inform you that you have arrived at the right place, a cocktail-lover´s paradise – at the intersection of Storgata and Youngs gate in Oslo. Welcome, says my new friend, Yunus Yildiz.
He may as well have said “welcome home”. I am not only looking at an amazing bar – I see spacious and comfy rooms all around me, from Himkok´s own greenery to a roofless outdoor area, new bars and a stage for laidback jazz. Himkok even has its own barber way back in the building. He is an old-fashioned guy who places you in a leather chair and uses a knife and not a razor to shave your beard. You are forgetting the most important thing, Yunus points out while turning my attention to the apparatus made of copper and shiny aluminum mounted behind the glass walls next to the cocktail bar on the first floor. At Himkok the distilling is done at home.
We distill our own gin, vodka and aquavit, Himkok´s manager, Yunus confirms. He was the first employee entrepreneur Erk hired. Erk had been to the U.S. and gotten a bright idea. Erk noticed that a lot of small distilleries had popped up in the U.S. and thought this would be a good idea for Norway as well. Himkok is a Norwegian version of that idea. Not only do we produce our own liquor, we also make our cocktails in a way nobody has done before in Norway. Cocktails from barrels! We call them Taptails. And since they are tapped from barrels we can handle much bigger volumes.
Since several hundred guests stop by Himkok every evening you may safely call it a high-volume cocktail bar. Still you avoid long waits while the drinks are being mixed, without that affecting the quality. Himkok has some of Norway´s finest bartenders and cocktail mixers – last year three of them competed in the world finals of cocktail mixing. You find the bar´s bestsellers in the original cocktail menu with the Norwegian national costume, the bunad on the cover, where every cocktail is inspired by bunad from some part of Norway. We pick elements from the bunad patterns, says Yunus. It can be an apple, a berry or an herb that we use to compose our own cocktails.
Always something to celebrate
It was “Drinks International” that voted Himkok as the world´s 20th best bar – the first Norwegian bar ever to be in the top 50. And it speaks volumes that among the millions of bars in the world Himkok landed a spot on the top 10 list among the best newcomer bars in 2015.
Himkok is presently celebrating its second anniversary. If you want to treat yourself to something special, this is the place to go. You can celebrate Himkok´s second anniversary or yourself, for that matter. Even if you have nothing to celebrate it is a treat just to be served a cocktail in one of the best cocktail bars in the world.