Mathin Lundgren, Bartender
Interview, 18 November 2021
In conversation with Mathin Lundgren. The food and drink specialist, previously running the show at Stockholm’s famed institution, Teatergrillen. Now working as a consultant within the food and drink scene as well as holding is own cocktail masterclasses. Mathin shares his thoughts on why you should drink cocktails with food, how saltiness/acidity makes the difference and why being social is what really matters.
“If you’re enjoying a drink at someone’s house, and are served some food and snacks, it might just help you relax a tiny bit more.”
– Combining food and drink works wonders, especially when you combine mood with flavour profiles. Saltiness and fatty foods pair nicely with sour drinks. It results in a certain lightness. If you’re enjoying a drink at someones house, and are served some food and snacks, it might just help you relax a tiny bit more. I think people are cautious not to get too drunk too quickly. But if you eat in the meantime, it slows down that process. By eating salty snacks, you tend to also become thirstier, making the pairing quite a good match. Keep in mind, there are some drinks that get better by preparing the ingredients beforehand. The flavours marry in a nicer way. Take the Americano that we’ve prepared today. It doesn’t become any worse by blending the ingredients in advance. The only thing that happens is that you can put a drink in your guests hands that little bit quicker. Which usually means that you as a host can focus on what you should be – A HOST! If you ask a chef for advice when cooking for guests at home, the key piece of advice is always to prepare as much as you can in advance. It’s equally important to be able to be social as well. Think of it similarly to Italian aperitif culture. Which is pretty appealing. It makes for a pleasant and social atmosphere.
– We have chosen pairings with high levels of saltiness or neutrality. Like olives, canned sardines, sourdough bread and Margherita pizza. I recommend choosing flavours that work in harmony instead of competing with each other. Avoiding flavours that are too strong. Do not limit yourself to foods that are best consumed within a narrow time span. Remember not to separate the experiences from each other. The idea isn’t to drink first, then eat or vice versa. It should rather be a combination of the two. Pizza is equally tasty, regardless if it’s hot or cold. At least if it’s Neapolitan!
“Remember not to separate the experiences from each other. The idea isn’t to drink first, then eat or vice versa.”
It’s easy to become lazy. Taking shortcuts that you shouldn’t take. If there’s fresh lemon or fresh lime in a recipe, for the best result, you should make fresh juice. That’s probably the biggest miss. When you pasteurise citrus, you lose a lot of flavour. So don’t cut corners! Ice is also important. Making sure that you’re using good quality. Not too much and not too little. By using smaller ice cubes in large quantities, you’ll end up with a drink that becomes cold fast, whilst also diluting the flavour at a much higher pace as well. Use bigger cubes that keep the temperature constant over a longer period of time. I think that there’s a built-in fear. A preconceived notion. People think that making cocktails is harder than what it really is. Being afraid to make a mistake along the way. My advice is that there’s no right and no wrong, it’s just a matter of different tastes. Do not blindly trust all professionals. Form your own opinion and preferences. Enjoy it.
– So what have we stirred up today. First off, we’ve made a predecessor to the Negroni. Slightly lower alcohol strength, consisting of Campari and sweet vermouth. I’ve added another amaro called Amaro Montenegro. Which I think gives a completely different depth and complexity. Above all, it adds more of an autumnal feeling with a touch of rosemary. A nice touch this time of the year.
Think of the second as a gin sour. Gin, freshly squeezed lemon and grapefruit cordial. The type of gin will obviously play a role. It sets the character of the drink. This is where the preferences come in to play. If you want gin to be juniper driven, you can go for something a little more classic. Today I used Plymouth gin. It has a slightly oilier character. If you want, you can vary. Gin generally goes very well with citrus. The acidity is usually wonderfully fresh.
RECIPE – HOUSE AMERICANO
An Americano is the predecessor to the immensely popular Negroni. A drink that, for better or worse, has a bit of a reputation. Think of the American version as the slightly less alcoholic, elegant and cooler predecessor with large amounts of soda instead of gin. We’ve also added another Italian bitter (Amaro Montenegro) in addition to Campari and sweet vermouth just to give the drink more body.
2 cl Campari
2 cl sweet vermouth
2 cl Amaro Montenegro
9 cl chilled soda
Garnish with a hint of rosemary and/or grapefruit zest. Measure the ingredients in a highball glass over ice.
RECIPE – GRAPEFRUIT GIN SOUR
A sour is a balancing act between spirits, lemon and sweetness. Here we balance the juniper based gin with fresh lemon and homemade grapefruit syrup. A perfect drink for savoury snacks.
5 cl gin
3 cl lemon juice
2 cl grapefruit sugar
Measure out the ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake the drink cold and strain it into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit zest and serve. (If you do not have access to a shaker, you can alternatively build the drink over ice in a highball glass and top with 6 cl of soda. Then it will instead become a Grapefruit Gin Collins)