Emil Åreng has spread the Cocktail Gospel internationally through books, articles, competitions and podcasts. He was the creative force behind Grand Hotel Stockholm’s Cadierbar, and started the legendary speakeasy Open/Closed. Now he is back in Umeå with only one thing in mind:
Creating one of the top three cocktail bars in Europe.
Ever since an 18-year-old Emil Åreng discovered the thrill of bartending, his life has revolved around alcohol. Not his own consumption (thank God), but the creative process of creating new, imaginative cocktails that tell a story. Anyone who’s had the privilege of visiting the small bar Open/Closed in Umeå can testify to Emil’s unique ability to create a universe around cocktails, and ever since the speakeasy went from Open/Closed to permanently closed in 2019 – it has left a void in the otherwise inspired Umeå gastronomic scene.
Over a period of five years Emil and his small team created more than 400 original cocktails, for instance the ‘Hamburger Sour’ containing vodka, dijon mustard, Gruyère, lemon, melted onion, tomato and cured beef with French fry foam. A chock in an otherwise vodka-redbull-denched Swedish cocktail-culture.
– Open/Closed was very experimental, but with two principal rules: We would always challenge the perception of what a cocktail can be, and it had to taste amazing. With Facit Bar we’ll continue this, and take it a big step further. We’re not reviving Open/Closed – this is something brand new, says Emil Åreng.
Emil Åreng – the man behind Facit Bar in Umeå. Foto: Jonas Pekkari
After taking on the role as creative director of the acclaimed Cadierbar of Stockholms Grand Hotel for a couple of years, Emil Åreng returns to Umeå for a true passion-project. Together with restaurateur Jörgen Engdal (Harlequin, Hunger & Törst), Emil has opened Facit Bar and Facit Galej – 1.000 luxurious square meters cocktail bar and event area overlooking Rådhustorget in the center of Umeå. An ambitious, exciting and – in some ways – insane project.
– There’s absolutely a bit of megalomania in play, it’s probably the most monumental project I’ll ever do. We’ve handpicked the best bartenders from all over Sweden, collaborated with local architects and the best Swedish interior designers, and travelled the whole country to find the best producers within every field. The menu will be composed exclusively from domestic commodities, no import allowed. This will make us unique, says Emil Åreng.
"There's a fair dose of megalomania in play"
– Emil Åreng
All Swedish ingredients, how’s that going to work?
– It’s a challenge. Take lemon and lime for instance – it has such an essential role in virtually every classic cocktail. But these fruits are not grown in Sweden, so we’ve had to find alternative acid to balance our cocktails. And by solely using domestic spirits we’ve eliminated many of the brands every bar on earth offers, this forces us to rethink everything we’ve learned about making a cocktail.
Open/Closed was a small and intimate speakeasy with 18 seats in a local deli, Facit Bar is 1.000 square meters and very high profile. Are you feeling the pressure?
– Sure. It’s grandiose, new and innovative – and people might not “get it” right away. But we’ve assembled the best crew in Sweden, we’ve got the talent and experience, and we’re crazy enough to try. We’ll create one of the best bars in Europe, Facit Bar is my Magnum Opus.
Age: 35 | Lives in: Umeå | From: Bräcke, Jämtland
Right now: Opening Facit Bar in Umeå, hosts weekly podcast “The Blind Pig” with director Måns Herngren and actor Adam Lundgren.
Background: Grew up in Bräcke, trained as bartender in London and worked as head bartender at Rex Bar & Grill, as creative director at Cadierbaren and founded Open/Closed. Created the book “Salongs i Norrland'' which was awarded ‘World’s Best Cocktail Book' at Gourmand Awards in China. It recently was also named Best Cocktail Book in the past 25 years.
Emil Åreng gathered some of Sweden's best bartenders at Facit Bar. Foto: Jonas Pekkari
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