The mixed drink, a wonderful American invention, steadily grows more popular all over the world. As with all great culinary achievements, skill in mixing drinks comes with knowledge and practice.
With a wild and thriving nightlife scene, Oslo is fast becoming the city of choice for young partygoers.
A recent increase in tourism has created a boom in the emergence of great bars and clubs. There are now so many, in fact, that it would be quite a job to choose which to visit first. Happily, however, with the help of some insiders (see below), we’re able to show you some of the top cocktail bars in Oslo.
This local spot is home to some of the most expertly crafted cocktails by bar manager Tom Fredrik, who is THE specialist on Mohitos. The cozy bar, with its low-key 1950s décor, may be matchbox sized, with just five tables, but it’s the drinks that rule here, and they won’t let you down. If you’re hungry, we recommend their Cuban Sandwich. Bar Boca was expanded to three times the size three years ago
Aku Aku Tiki Bar
A perfectly cozy hangout for friends or dates, Aku Aku has a seriously cool crowd of regulars who all seem to know each other, creating a very familiar atmosphere in which you will instantly feel at home. Aku Aku Tiki bar is home to some of the very few expertly crafted Tiki cocktails in Scandinavia.
The Tiki trend started in Hollywood over 80 years ago and was based loosely on Cantonese, Hawaiian and Polynesian cuisines. The word Tiki is derved from Maori mythology about the first man, their equivalent to Adam in the Eden story.
At Aku Aku you may enjoy genuine Tiki cocktails in a setting inspored by Polynesianhandicrafts and art, some of it borrowed from the Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo.
Try their rum-based Chili Punch Signature drink. Their drink The Missionary with pineapple was by the way made by a mistake, and has been one of the most popular since the bar opened in xx. Aku Aku has a selection of more than 100 rums.
This tiny and tucked away local secret spot is in fact not a secret any longer. Chairs is home to some of the most expertedly crafted Martinis in Oslo. A perfectly cozy hangout for friends or dates. Chairs has a seriously cool crowd of regulars who all seem to know each other, creating a very familiar atmosphere in which you will instantly feel at home. Although it is always packed and buzzing, the staff is so efficient they will know what you want almost before you sit down.
Managed by Erkan Yelkenci from Turkey, Chair was the first gin-bar in Norway, now serving 110 different gins, and from this year, their third year in operation, they have their own gin label.
Try their Bols Rabbit or the House Gin & Tonic, which was mixed 14,000 times last year.
The old is new again at Pigalle in the colorful district of Grønland in Oslo. Pigalle started as the first go-go bar in Oslo in 1964, and still maintains its historic roots. It is evident that the new owners have brought the premises back to the building’s original touch of the 1920s.
The newer cocktail bar, located on the second floor, is every bit a speakeasy brimming with history, which also offers a unique twist with its cocktail program, changing themes with seasons.
After 9 years’ experience in London, bar manager Anne Maurseth knows how to make a perfect Dry Martini. Try also her After Dinner Delight.
The name of Nr. 19 (No 19) refers to the old main police station and prison in Oslo. Nr. 19 Bar is however located in the building next to no. 19, which housed the Gestapo cells during WWII, so it’s all a little confusing.
However, this small newcomer to Oslo’s evolving cocktail scene is located amid the bars and pubs at Youngstorget. The bartenders will happily mix up your favorite drink, but try their Cold Buttered rum or creation Bluegrass Mai Tai, consisting of Bourbon, Jim Beam Rye, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, house-made orgeat and agave syrup.
The bar’s young team works with great enthusiasm and decicattion. Each cocktail represents a piece of their creativity.
Bettola Bar is located next to the Italian restaurant Trattiore Popolare, so here two Italian etsablishments go hand in hand. They have different owners though.
We usually know professionalism when we see it, and these guys definitively know what they are doing. There are few things we enjoy more than watching mixologists in action.
The bar offers a very consistent and well thought-out selection – with a daily drink menu hanging on the wall. The cocktails here: quick and elegant.
It’s time to rethink everything you know about herbal tonics. According to Gunnar Forsgren, who helped kick off this trend at his 5 years old bar located in the center of Oslo, the benefits go beyond taste. “Everyone wants to eat and drink healthier, and cocktails are no exception,” he explains. These are as natural and organic as they come.
And this place is literally alive with plant life from the moment you walk in. If you want to lift your spirit and mood, just lift a drink.
This is all about a greenery, there is actually a specially-conditioned room where even more plants are grown and end up in your drink.
The drinks have been given fantasy names like Tom Cruisepersille and Miss Basil.
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In fancy hotels, the bars are often a glamorous mingling spot for well-heeled travelers and high-end locals, serving pricey cocktails in chic decorated rooms for elegant drinking. Here are two of our favorite hotel bars.
Evan Rage, with wexperience from London and Australia has been in charge of Bristol cocktail bar since 2014. Bristol Cocktail Bar in Bristol Thon Hotel is decorated like an old English library and serves fabulous cocktails.
Enjoy your drinks in a relaxing atmosphere in deep leather couches and chairs and listen to pleasant music. There is in fact live music twice a month. Every second Wednesday Richard Bowers sings famous songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole.
The thief bar is a cocktail experience. The bar team spends months on preparing the right flavour combinations, glassware and garnishes for upcoming menues. The images below give you an idea.
If you want to hang out in a spot which is loved by celebrities and fully understand the meaning of the word “exclusive”, just pay a visit.
Levitating cocktails, one of the most expensive bourbons in the world or an outstanding collection of Art are a few features describing the Thief. It is also a venue where the famous OSLO BAR SHOW takes place every summer. A must on a bar map.
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Last but not least, we visited one of the most interesting newcomers in Oslo.
If you walk eastwards from Stortorget along Storgata you arrive at No. 27, but you have to go around the corner. The building appears to have housed a former fur store beside an Asian supermarket. There are no sign there that tells you it might be a cocktail bar inside. It’s like passing a secret door used during Prohibition to get booze to its patrons. The name Himkok translated into English means Moonshining, so rest assure you have come to the right place. Himkok also offers a unique twist with its cocktail program – you may even have your cocktails on taps!
Since Himkok is inspired by the Prohibition, many of the drinks being served there are compositions from first half of the 1900s. One of them is “The Last Word”, an American classic from the 1920s served at the private members club Detroit Athletic.
Himkok’s menu “Flavours of Norway / Smaken av Norge” is a celebration of the culinary diversity of Norway. It is a tribute to the country’s amazing ingredients, passionate producers, dedicated farmers and incredible brewers. Himkok has created a collection of drinks which will take you on a culinary journey through the country, introducing you to old and new flavors, adventurous combinations and the beautiful people creating some of the best produce out there.
When Matthew Ensor from New Zealand heard about the plans to make such a cocktail bar in Oslo he just jumped on a plane to be a part of the adventure. He is now a part of the leading team together with bartender Thomas Stenbäck and head bartender Joakim Olsson.
Himkok was listed on 42nd place on the list of the World’s Best Bars in 2016.
But Himkok is more than a cocktail bar. We would prefer to call it a Cocktail Land. Entering the door the first thing you see is a huge distillery machine behind a bulletproof glass wall. Matthew Ensor is producing aquavit, gin and vodka there.
During the summer season there is an outside area on the first floor with a cider bar serving a wide selection of fermented apple beverages. There is also a barbershop, in which you may have your hair and beard trimmed, zipping to your preferred cocktail..
But you are hereby officially warned. At Himkok you find happiness both behind bars and in front of it. It’s greatly addictive.
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Feature image (on top) Botaniska Cocktail Bar.
All images by Tor Kjolberg, unless otherwise specifically stated.
Read also: Cocktails in Copenhagen
Selected Bars in Oslo is written by Tor Kjolberg in cooperation with Marcin Cebula, the Nordic Bols Ambassador, working across all the Scandinavian and Finnish markets.
Marcin is a true all-rounder because he has been working in almost every field of the bar industry in the last 11 years.
As a true Genever believer, he is trying to revive the interest for this still unknown and underrated product and bring it back where it
belongs – “on the top shelf of every bar “, as he says.
He is currently in the middle of the process of writing a book about Gin and Genever.
Marcin believes in hard work and diligence and his motto speaks for itself , “Actions speak louder than words”.
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Lucas Bols is the world’s oldest distilled spirits brand and one of the oldest Dutch companies still active. Company’s heritage dates back to 1575 when Bols family opened their distillery, t Lootsje (the little shed) in Amsterdam.
From these small scale beginnings, Bols has grown to become the manufacturer of some of the world’s finest liqueurs, gins/ jenevers and vodkas, sold in 110 countries around the world.
Purity and quality are the watchwords of the Bols brand. The company motto, which dates back to the Bols family origins, is “Semper Idem,” which means ‘Always the Same’. This reflects a strong obsession and commitment to producing Genevers, liqueurs, and Vodka to the same high quality that continues into the modern day.