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stockholm

top 10 bars

Bella Sarris heads out on the National Day of Sweden to road-test the wine bars of Stockholm. With the help of some local wine-loving friends, her challenge was to share one bottle and some snacks at each bar to determine the top 10 bars in the Swedish capital.
Text   bella Sarris

1

Cafe Nizza  

Åsögatan 171, Södermalm, Stockholm,
cafenizza.se

‘Nizza’, as it is known, marked the start of our bar crawl and what better place to begin. This favourite of Södermalm locals and wine heads is the ideal place for a casual glass, plus bread and butter, sitting on the benches, or a full tasting menu on white linen. Whichever option you choose, it’s a pleasure to spend time here.

In holiday spirit, they were hosting a mortadella party on our visit, showcasing some very delicious drops poured by the hands that made them. Jo Landron himself served me his 2013 Sèvre et Maine Le Fief du Breil Muscadet from the Loire Valley, which was almost as impressive as his moustache. Already breaking our first rule, I followed with too many glasses of the totally delicious 2015 Ca’ De Noci Lambrusco, which I have been trying to track down ever since.

2

Folii

Erstagatan 21, Södermalm, Stockholm,
folii.se

This is a serious wine bar and the perfect example of what I understand the Swedish word lagom to mean: everything just right. An impressive, modest-sized list of natural and old-school wines, almost all by the glass. There’s a small but elegant menu of snacks and plates to complement whichever glass you choose; wine is the star here. Vinyl spins on the single turntable, while the sommelier works the charcuterie slicer and the bottles behind patiently await their turn to be poured.I had a beautifully dry 2016 Argyros Assyrtiko from the salty soils of Santorini.

3

Vina

Sofiagatan 1, Södermalm Stockholm,
vinaaa.squarespace.com

For me, home is where friends and natural wine are, and Vina gave me my first Stockholm memories of both. I’m not sure if it was the lazy summer afternoons, sipping our way through almost everything open, or cosy group hangs in the evening ordering everything on the small but delicious food menu, twice, but as soon as I arrived here, I knew I was in the right place. Because of this I have to name it my favourite and thank Vina for the warm welcome and all round good vibes.

4

La Colline

Götgatan 29, Södermalm, Stockholm,
lacolline.se

Anna Mellfor is head sommelier of La Colline and its two other venues, and is responsible for their philosophy: mostly natural wine with room for a well-crafted Barolo or two, generally from smaller producers. The newest and largest of the three venues, La Colline is a Mediterranean-ish brasserie with an impressive list. We tasted the rare, rebellious 2007 Navine from Les Griottes and some even wilder kombucha made in-house. Later on at La Colline’s little brother Grus Grus (grusgrusvinbaren.se) the Swedes were impressed by a delicious pinot noir from the Yarra Valley’s William Downie. I heard Tranan (tranan.se) is the type of restaurant to take your mum to, so I did.

5

19 Glas

Stora Nygatan 19, Gamla Stan, Stockholm,
19glas.se

This is not a tourist trap, as the area would suggest, although you would be very lucky to be a tourist trapped in here. There’s no doubt Peter Bennysson has an impressive cellar stocked full of rare and unusual wines from all corners of the globe. Noticing my accent, he proved this, whipping out a bottle of Smallfry Tangerine Dream “from my homeland”. After that we were transported to Spain by Glòria Garriga’s handcrafted red from her Els Jelipins vineyard. This was served up with a plate of high-quality, expensive charcuterie. Translation: the pigs had names and nice lives.

6

Ambar

Tomtebogatan 22, Vasastan, Stockholm,
ambarvinbar.se

As you may be able to guess this is a go-to spot for all things orange, but I can guarantee you’ve never been to one quite like this. This resembles a cross between an Irish pub and the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter, oddly but pleasantly complemented by exquisite Japanese dishes. The blue cheese-filled tofu will absolutely blow your mind and will require a reorder, especially if you wash it down with a 2013 Serraghia Bianco as we did. Each hand-blown goblet is different and I suggest you choose a larger one, especially if you are sharing a bottle between five (so you get your share).

7

Babette

Roslagsgatan 6, Vasastan, Stockholm,
babette.se

Pizza and wine, name a more iconic duo if you can. There’s no doubt Babette has this nailed. For us the winning combo was a simple, yet elegant tomato and stracciatella on the thinnest base I’ve had outside of Napoli and a magnum of Jean Foillard Morgon. Need I say more? Nizza’s grungier younger sister is the coolest kid on the block and one of the best dates you’ll ever have. It feels more like someone’s living room full of friends with a killer cellar, rather than a restaurant. Probably because that’s kind of what it is, especially on Sundays when it’s buzzing with chefs and hospitality peeps. It’s your dream local, the perfect cosy bolthole.

8

Tyge & Sessil  

Brahegatan 4, Östermalm, Stockholm,
tygesessil.se

We didn’t make it here on our National Day crawl. Mainly because the owner was busy enjoying the sun and festivities at Nizza and forbade us to go while he wasn’t present. The day I did make it, however, chef/sommelier Max Mellfors was also off work enjoying the company of his daughter at the table next to me outside. During our chat in the sun, Mellfors talked about his love for natural wine and his “upside down” list – a spotlight on the southern hemisphere and lesser known regions and producers with France and Italy last – while we sipped our Lucy Margaux. The relaxed atmosphere is only enhanced by the incredibly cool staff, all passionate wine heads, who are happy to have a one on one with you until you find the drop you’re looking for.  

9

Växthuset

Hammarby Slussväg 2, Södermalm, Stockholm,
restaurangvaxthuset.se

Would you believe me if I told you this sustainable, plant-based restaurant is part of my favourite nightclub in Stockholm? Växthuset literally means greenhouse, and their seasonal, locally sourced menu is next level veggies. This really is some of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever had and keeps me looking forward to dinners with my DJ cohorts months in advance. If you’re not already impressed, all wines in the restaurant and ‘nature bar’ are biodynamic and you can expect a fresh sprig of rosemary in your gin and tonic. Not your typical nightclub food or drink, more like exquisite home cooking served in a dining room replete with Danish furniture.

10

Hommage

Krukmakargatan 22, Södermalm, Stockholm,
bar-hommage.com

One of the most feel-good spots in Stockholm, this beautiful, old converted fire station has become the official hang out of my crew for pre-party Champagne, post-party Negronis and everything in between. It has helped us survive many a Monday, dosed up on floradora cocktails and weekend gossip. Hommage has the best cocktails in town, and it is not only me who thinks so. Head bartenders Alex and Ola just got back from Oslo where they collected the prize for best bar in Sweden at the Nordic Bar Show.