Part 2 – Two Bars, Two Negronis, One Unforgettable Experience
After I left the magical bar world of Seiberts I headed on towards Little Link. In Cologne all bars are within walking distance. A blessing and a curse. From a distance I already saw the illuminated sign. A few people sat in front of the bar and I glanced throught the open window into the bar. I entered the room and it could not have been more different compared to the fairyland at Seiberts before. Metall, concrete, many different materials, black bar stools. I found myself in a more technical world. The counter was indirectly illuminated by metal sheets in which the name and logo of the bar had been punched out. The mixing stations are designed generously and there is a wide selection of spirits. The tables and seats in the room are on the same level as the bar counter, building a harmonious unit. The materials of the walls are different but all “linked” to each other. The name of the bar Little Link stands for the link between guests and hosts, classic and modern, elegant and casual, between kitchen and bar.
A water service was right there when I took my seat. The bartender wore a plaid shirt and an apron. Uniform clothing has always a calming effect on me. The black menu, the so-called Menupass is a password that guides you through different countries. I already worn my United Gindom T-shirt, originally a gift from Stephan Hinz to Ricardo Albrecht but it fitted me more than him, when I entered Cologne. You will find more imagined countries like Republica Exotica & Tiki Island, the Highball Highlands and also Dry Country on the menu. The bar food looks very tempting and tasty, but I was too focussed on the drinks. You enter a stylish bar but behind the scenes the spirits and ingredients are deconstructed and rebuild by using the technical possibilities of an award-winning cuisine. Sous-vide, cold drip, fat washing, rotary evaporator are already well-know and they go further, they messure the pH-value of citrus fruits and grow their own herbs. Everything has been thought out down to the last detail to provide a consistent quality and reliable availability. Stephan showed me the lab and I really was overwhelmed by the impressions. I noticed immediately that the work is done in a very professional and scientific way but the love for the original product is still there. The initial purpose to prepare a cocktail for the guests remains as the main focus. Sitting back on your bar stool und taking a look in the menu, you will be surprised by the unusual ingredients and compositions but you might not care about the origin. This concept truely requires a huge portion of passion and personal commitment. I landed in Avantgardistan, the Signature Drinks from the Future. Parmesan, sage, banana and a good jigger of rum. The King Louie tasted exactly like this. A refreshing and extremly tasteful concoction. Here you can take a closer look to the menu.
Beside the lab and the bar, you will find another room downstairs with a huge table, the so-called Linked Table. The Cocktailkunst GmbH offers catering and events on a regular basis and this room is used for their events. The cosy cellar vault can also be rented for private occasions. Stephan Hinz showed me again around and I took a closer look at this young guy. He is not even thirty years old but already runs his own company, bar, has developed his own glassware collection and published two cocktail books. At the same time he is down to earth, very nice and warm hearted. This is really impressive. I met him the first time at the Oslo Bar Show earlier this year.
You will find a host and a nutritionist naturally united in one person.
After all those impressions of that night – how to manage the little link between the fairytale world of Seiberts to this place. It is obvious, with a Little Link Negroni. That was the second Negroni today. Gin, Campari and Little Link Vermouth blend were seamlessly stiched together to a more balanced Negroni than ususal. What really catched my eye were the two Ls of the logo in the middle of the big ice cube. Rather tiny bubbles no branding. Stephan did not tell me the secret. By the way the bathroom is also worth a visit. Afterwards you feel somehow so sexy, and after I took a picture I found the reason in the upper edge of the picture.
Personal conclusion of my two bar adventures: If you find a lot of technology behind the scenes you will find even more love in front. A bar is a bar and a lab is a lab. The guest remains uninvoled in the process and can simply enjoy.
Two bars, two completely different approaches but the passion and love for the art of drinking link them together. Both bartenders are nominated as best bartenders 2016. Two of the three nominees are located in Cologne. Is Cologne maybe the secret capital of bars?
I almost reached the end of my birthday adventure. I still managed to visit the Newcomer Max Bergfried whom I met at his guestshift in the bar Hagestolz. You will find him in the Spirits bar but soon he will move on. Unfortunately there was no more capacity in my liver so I just had a beer and bourbon. What a fantastic birthday!!!