The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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Emil Seth Åreng’s The Steamboat Alma

Emil Seth Åreng represented Sweden at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Rex Bar & Grill has been a focal point of the Northern Swedish city of Umeå since 1996, though the building it occupies, the old town hall, has been pivotal even longer. It occupies one side of Umeå’s main square and houses a dance floor in the former courtroom upstairs, while a pop-up bar, Den Blinda Grisen or The Blind Pig, hogs (sorry) the basement. The central chamber in between houses the main restaurant and bar. It serves international/French brasserie food with a wholesome tranche of Northern Sweden added, with the drinks taking a similar approach of classic cocktails tempered by terroir.

The Bartender

Emil Seth Åreng, 27, has been the bar manager at Rex for three years. By the age of ten he’d narrowed his future career choice to either barman or soldier – and he has no regrets with the path he chose. ‘We work with flavours that we have around the corner, because we live pretty close to nature,’ explains Emil, ‘so with the herbs, fruits and berries we do classic cocktails with a twist of Northern Sweden.’ This could be cloudberries, Arctic raspberries or a syrup made from birch or spruce: ‘it’s like the taste of the forest.’ Having worked in the industry for eight years Emil is inspired by the bartending team at Swedish stalwart, Little Quarter, as well as gurus Ueno Hidetsugu, Angus Winchester, Erik Lorincz and Max La Rocca.

The Drink

The Steamboat Alma is a cocktail based on Emil’s original Bismark recipe, the latter named after a popular apple type in the region. The steamboat conjures up images of the saltwater loch that the Talisker single malt distillery overlooks (the only one on the Isle of Skye), the deep & rugged terrain indicative of the aromas of peat-smoke & sea saltiness found in this full-bodied single malt.

The drink also features a syrup made from angelica, produced especially for Rex by a lady in the mountains who is an evangelist to the herb’s properties. The dedication to terroir even encompasses the ice, which is brought in blocks from the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi and shaped by hand on site.

The Technique

Talisker 10 • 50ml
Brånnland Iscider • 40ml
Angelica syrup • 15ml
Bob’s Abbotts bitters • 2 dashes
Contains 23 grams of alcohol per serve

Stir all the ingredients with hand cut ice. Pour into a chilled Martini glass.

The Steamboat Alma is best enjoyed pre-dinner, or perhaps after with cheese. Don’t miss the Blind Pig in the basement, which Emil decorated to look ‘as a speakeasy might have looked in Northern Sweden in the 1930s – if we’d had one.’

It’s a lively venue, which demonstrates how you can get things right, while retaining a lot of charm. The drinks utilize unique regional produce that you’ll struggle to find fresh elsewhere.

Emil’s Insider’s Guide to Umeå

Place to relax
Sweden Öbacka Park

Place to lounge
Nya Konditoriet

Place to Dance

Place to shop

Place to visit
Umeå University’s Arts Campus

Place to see

Images by Gordon Andersson and the two ice block photos by Andreas Nilsson