Drinks, Interviews

Interview with Jens Dahlberg, 20Hundra5

Interview with Jens Dahlberg, 20Hundra5

Jens Dahlberg is a cool dude, and one of the masterminds behind the hip cocktail neighbourhood joint 20Hundra5 – as well as summer pop up Outside. If that wasn’t enough, he also recently won the cocktail competition Bartenders Black Box Challenge which made him 20 000 SEK richer. I guess it’s time to find out some more about him, don’t you think?

Jens Dahlberg, photo ©

What made you pursue a career in hospitality and how did you get your first bartender job?

I started working in a restaurant when I was 15, washing dishes, and loved the atmosphere. A year later I started working in the kitchen and it was so satisfying to create different kinds of food and dishes, to please guests with my creations was awesome. I was a chef up until six years ago. It all started when I helped out a couple of times in the bar at Lokal (where I usually worked in the kitchen) because they were short handed. After a couple of months Thomas (bar manager and now colleague at 20Hundra5) offered me a full time job in the bar and I thought to myself this is a great new challenge for me. It’s not such a big difference from the kitchen, went from solids to fluids.

Where are you originally from, and how did you end up at 20Hundra5?

Long story short. Born in Sundsvall (lived there for three months), grew up in a small town outside Uppsala and have been moving around a couple of times growing up. Have been thinking for many years to open up our own place and do it how we want it. So three friends and I decided it was time to do it. We all took private loans and bought a small coffee shop and renovated it.

Can you describe the current cocktail concept at 20Hundra5 and the story behind it?

Our concept is all about flavors and finding ways how to use different fruits, vegetables, herbs and so on. Using my knowledge as chef, Thomas and Andreas with their long experience as bartenders. Working on how to get the best flavors into a cocktail

Which place/places has/have been most important regarding your knowledge and skills?

I would say it all started at Restaurang Lokal where I made friends with bartenders and worked closely with them. Helping them make different syrups and infusions

Which is your favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?

I like making all cocktails, it’s why I am in the hospitality business. To serve guests whatever they want.

How would you describe the perfect customer?

Guests who put their trust in me to make a great cocktail that will make them happy.

What’s the weirdest drink order you’ve gotten?

A “german” Mojito. You switch out the rum and use Jägermeister instead. It tasted awful.

What do you like most about your job?

That I finally have the freedom to do whatever I want, because I own it.

Do you have any special bartending skills you’re extra proud of?

Haha no not really.

How do you spend your spare time?

Hanging out with my girlfriend and having a nice dinner and drinks.

What do you drink when off duty?

Daiquiri or a Manhattan on the rocks.

What do you have in your private liquor cabinet?

Lots of booze, but my new favorite is the Plantation  Pineapple.

Jens Dahlberg (middle) in good company. Photo ©

What upcoming cocktail trends do you think we can expect in the near future?

I think infusions are on the way back again and sustainability thinking in bars is becoming very important.

Which are your favourite bars/bartenders around the world and why?

My favorite bar right now is my local bar (it is in the same house as my apartment)
Madeleine Rapp is one of my favorite bartenders, because she’s a great bartender who has great knowledge about everything and that she got the chance to work at Dead Rabbit in New York.

In your opinion, how does the bar scene in Sweden compare internationally?

I think we really have an up and coming bar scene, starting to get the recognition that we want and deserve.

You just won the Bartenders Black Box Challenge cocktail competition, what are your thoughts regarding this experience and cocktail competitions in general?

I liked the Black Box Challenge because the terms are the same for everybody. It all comes down to skill and if you can handle the time pressure. I like doing competitions because it helps me push and evolve myself as a bartender.

How do you come up with new cocktail recipes and what inspires you?

Usually I start with one flavor (vegetable, fruit or herb) and work around it. Looking what can match or enhance it. Things that inspire me is also my colleagues, we tend do go a bit crazy sometimes with our cocktails but we always balance each other out and in the end we get some great cocktails.
I also look at what other bars do around the world to get inspiration and ideas.

Which of your signature drinks, if any, and what else in your career are you most proud of so far?

We at 20Hundra5 have a “series” of signature drinks called Pineapple Hustle, so far we have created six of them. All of them include pineapple and ginger in some form. For example in Pineapple Hustle No.6 there is roasted pineapple gin and sweetened ginger.

I’m proud of that we took the leap to open our own cocktail bar, it was a big gamble because it is on an off address in Stockholm. But now after a year and a half we succeeded to make it in this business.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

I see myself and my colleagues owning one more bar or a bigger bar.

Would you like to share one of your own recipes?

Pineapple Hustle No.6
50 ml roasted pineapple gin
30 ml ginger syrup
15 ml demerara sugar
30 ml lime juice
3 dashes house-made pineapple bitters

Shake, serve on ice. Top with pineapple foam (sugar, fresh pineapple juice, egg white).
Sprinkle some pineapple salt on the foam (soak sea salt in pineapple juice and let it dry).

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