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Øyvind’s world of wines

Award-winning bartender and cocktail creator, Øyvind Lindgjerdet, introduces a new wine-based cocktail menu for Vinbaren.

Article · 8 min read

This space was already the coolest room in the hotel. It has a unique atmosphere, it’s intimate and it stands out from the rest of the hotel. There is so much potential!

Vinbaren’s new manager, Øyvind Lindgjerdet

Vinbaren (‘The Wine Bar’) was launched when the hotel reopened in 2019. The space is fundamentally an interactive wine cellar; a labyrinth of tasting rooms, lined by 10,000 of the world’s best bottles in temperature-controlled glass cabinets.  

Øyvind Lindgjerdet serving wine in Britannia Hotel's wine bar, Vinbaren

The concept has been tweaked and adapted since inception, with fine wine always at the heart of the experience. Now it reopens after a summer of renovations with a bold new look and approach under the guidance of Øyvind Lindgjerdet, the award-winning cocktail creator from Britannia Bar.

Quinquina Spritz one of Øyvind's new wine-based cocktails in Vinbaren, Britannia Hotel
Quinquina Spritz, one of Øyvind's new wine-based cocktails in Vinbaren. Photo by EBS Photograph.

A Sparkling Beginning

Øyvind Lindgjerdet has been managing Britannia Bar since the grand reopening of the hotel three and half years ago. The concept has gone on to receive many nominations in the illustrious Bartenders Choice Awards, taking home the gold in the People’s Choice Award last year, following on from gold in 2020 for Best Cocktail Menu in Norway, celebrating Øyvind’s incredible array of history-based cocktails. 

Britannia Bar in Trondheim
Britannia Bar, where Øyvind presents his range of signature cocktails, A Spirited History of Trondheim. Photo by Studio Dreyer Hensley.

The new menu for Vinbaren, however, posed Øyvind with his greatest professional challenge yet: a range of signature drinks based on leading Champagnes, reds, whites and distilled wines. Luckily for Britannia, Øyvind is a self-diagnosed challenge junkie and he jumped at the chance to create something original. 

The ambitious new manager of Vinbaren presented his new range of cocktails during the bar’s opening party in September. As anyone who has met Øyvind before will testify, his prowess as a mixologist is only surpassed by his skills as a conversationalist. His team take care to greet each guest personally and warmly, and the stories behind the drinks pour as freely as the spirits within them.

senior bartender Sven Marius Øversjøen

The Koji Bellini is offered to guests on arrival. It’s the perfect introduction to the new menu:

"We started from a base of the Bellini, wanting to take a fun international cocktail and make something more interesting out of its DNA," explains Øyvind. "We have both the core elements - Prosecco and white peach – but we added plum and something called “koji”, meaning mold spores from rice and barley."

Koji adds an extra layer of depth and complexity to the cocktail. The earthy, funky flavours balance perfectly against the more sweet and sour direction taken by the fruity sorbet and Prosecco. It’s now a full bodied, ‘in your face’ sort of drink.

Øyvind Lindgjerdet

The drink does not have a long way to travel to get into one’s face, served in an impossibly long-stemmed glass, with a cornel of sorbet sat delicately in bubbles at the top. It’s long-legged, the Uma Thurman of cocktails. Delve into this divine little icy bundle of joy, using the delicate gold spoon provided, and you discover a taste profile which exceeds the visual expectations. 

The Koji Bellini was a labour of love. In the curation of the drink, Øyvind approached the Michelin-starred chefs in Speilsalen for guidance about making sorbet, before adapting their approach to suit his own requirements: a sorbet which had more flavour intensity with a lower water content, while maintaining a different freezing point because it contains alcohol.

The sorbet holds its form for the duration of the drink, dissipating in swirls with each remarkable spoon and sip. 

From now on, I want all my desserts to be served in a pool of Champagne. The mad professor of cocktails strikes again!

McKenna Starck, from Hyfer Festival, speaking on opening night.
Brioche Sour, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet. Photo by EBS Photography
Brioche Sour, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet. Photo by EBS Photography

Milk, Bread and Wine

The Brioche Sour is a clarified version of the classic Whiskey Sour, using American wheat whiskey instead of bourbon, with a clarified milk from Røros. We have seen this ingredient on Øyvind’s menus before, used to great effect in his signature cocktail Cannon from Britannia Bar. The Brioche Sour is infused with toasted brioche bread and the wine element comes from a Rioja Reserva which is poured on top of the drink like a blood red lava lamp. The colourful drink feels at home in the newly renovated bar, with striking paintings adorning the walls, by renowned painter Bjarne Melgaard.

Aromatique, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel

Øyvind’s drinks always have a dash of theatre, but never to the detriment of the taste or drinking pleasure. Flavour and balance are the prerequisites. The Aromatique is perhaps the epitome of this philosophy, a cocktail which has achieved the seemingly impossible: a delicious drink with Grappa in it.

You have to be brave or stupid to make a drink with Grappa. I think I’m a bit of both. Grappa has a lot of character and very sharp elbows, so usually when you mix with Grappa it will overpower your other ingredients.

Øyvind Lindgjerdet
Aromatique, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel

Øyvind was determined to create a drink which was based on the profile of the distilled grape spirit and he could not ignore the challenge being laid down by the devil on his shoulder. 

The acidity in the cocktail comes from “verjus”, the juice from unripe grapes, which provided the perfect bedfellow for the aromatic Moscato Grappa. The woodiness of the drink is softened with a watermelon cordial and completed by Britannia’s own Rosé Champagne from Ayala.

The resulting drink, served in the most expensive glass Øyvind has ever used in a bar, has the quite frankly jaw-dropping effect of mimicking a gorgeous fresh pink wine. It is as if Øyvind has deconstructed the Grappa back to its original grape form, adding layers of elegance along the way. Or, as he puts it in his menu; “an aromatic experiment gone horribly right”.

Aromatique, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel. Photo by EBS Photography-
Aromatique, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel. Photo by EBS Photography-

Øyvind’s favourites

There are eight signature cocktails in total, with four more planned. The inaugural menu includes immediate classics such a Yucatán and Symphonie which are based on two of Øyvind’s favourite wines, Schloss Lieser Riesling Kabinett and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc respectively. The latter divides opinion on opening night. It’s not a question of taste – everyone seated at the bar loves it – but whether or not this is a wine lover’s cocktail or a cocktail lover’s cocktail?

Symphonie, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel. Photo by EBS Photography.
Symphonie, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel. Photo by EBS Photography.

The drink has a long aftertaste from the single malt whiskey from the Scottish producer Glenmorangie, balanced perfectly with the French Williams Pear distillate. The wine is in the background surely? But Øyvind, with a glint in his eye, offers a taste of the unadulterated wine to drink alongside and suddenly there it is! The qualities of the Sauvignon Blanc are immediately recognizable in the cocktail, notes of tomato plants, gooseberries and pear. It’s wine wizardry. 

A La Royale, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel. Photo by EBS Photography.
A La Royale, a cocktail by Øyvind Lindgjerdet for Vinbaren at Britannia Hotel. Photo by EBS Photography.

Top shelf

There are a couple of slightly more expensive cocktails on the menu, including the À La Royale, which uses Dom Perignon 2012 vintage Champagne, with a dash of Tariquet Blanche Armagnac. It’s floral, light, easy going and yet sophisticated, with a complexity added by a rue berry cordial, a tropical herbal plant from Ethiopia.

And then there’s the X. O. Fashioned, boasting tasting notes ‘Boozy x Earthy x Aromatic’. It’s all these things and more, with a 25-year-old X.O. cognac bringing the heft. The fact that it utilizes on of the world’s most exclusive Champagnes, Krug, does not go amiss. Finished with the nuttiness of the black walnut leaf, this a drink which lives long on the palate and even longer in the memory. 

From space to space

It is not just the quality of what goes in the glass but all the small details around that experience which elevates a great bar to a great experience. Everything from the hand-chosen glassware to the new cylindrical lamps on the tables to vibrant new playlists (delivered through a new state of the art sound system), is the culmination of a carefully thought-out curation process.

senior bartender Sven Marius Øversjøen

“Take this bar,” points out senior bartender Sven Marius Øversjøen (who has also made the journey from Britannia Bar with Øyvind). “It is like a spaceship which has descended on Britannia. It’s engineered to suit bartenders, with a beehive layout which can be altered. All the action happening right in front of you, at a lowered height, so you can see everything going on behind the bar.”

serving wine at Vinbaren's new bar

The first bar to have this bar design was the Tayer and Elementary bar in London. Each section of the beehive bar can be used as a counter or can be turned over to create open storage for bottles, plants, ice or other implements. It looks stunning and no two evenings have the same layout. If guests seated at the bar would like a bottle of chilled wine, the section nearest them can double up as a sunken ice bucket. It’s an alluring prospect.

It's also a reminder that wine experiences remain front and foremost in the Vinbaren lexicon. Many sections of the new bar can be combined to create, for example, a huge ice pit with dozens of Champagne bottles for a big occasions or grand tasting events.

henrik dahl jahnsen vinbaren wine cellar at britannia
Henrik Dahl Jahnsen, Britannia's Wine Director, choosing a bottle from Vinbaren's extensive wine cellar. Photo by Marius Rua.

Pop that Bottle

The one concept which has been brought over from Vinbaren 1.0 to today’s model, is “Pop That Bottle!”. Every Friday, the senior sommelier digs deep into Britannia’s wine cellar to find a special bottle of wine to kick off the weekend (they ‘pop that bottle’ at 5pm). For wine lovers this is an opportunity enjoy a single glass from a rare bottle, sharing the cost with other aficionados. 

On opening night Øyvind opens Armand de Brignac’s Ace of Spades, one of the world’s most exclusive Champages. Where else can you find this Champagne served by the glass? It’s the perfect start to the weekend and a sign of good times to come at Britannia’s freshest concept, Vinbaren.

Røroskjøtt Coppa Ham at Britannia Hotel

What’s on the menu?

Vinbaren has also launched a new event: Champagne tastings every Saturday. Designed for both seasoned wine aficionados and newcomers to the world of wine, the fun sessions are hosted by Britannia’s knowledgeable Sommeliers, who guide guests through three glasses, explaining the unique flavour and history of each. 

The wine cellar also offers a selection of food. There are various options including cheese boards, cured meats and sharing platters. Or treat yourself to ever-popular classics such as Britannia’s own duck rillette, alongside luxury touches such as fresh oysters or Britannia’s own caviar, served with blinis and sour cream from Røros. 

The bar also caters for groups and private events, with wine courses designed specifically for the groups’ size and experience. 

Couple enjoying glasses of wine and cocktails in Britannia's wine bar, Vinbaren

A coming of age

Much like the quality wines which line the walls in Vinbaren, the concept has matured and come of age. There is also, as Øyvind points out, a lot of untapped potential. The new layout and cocktail menu has already proved to be a big hit with guests, allowing a new entry point into the exciting and everlasting world of wine.

Vinbaren has always been a concept which helps Britannia stand out from the crowd; a unique use of the wine cellar with a wine list to compete with the best five-star hotels in the world. Now it has a unique cocktail menu and an atmosphere to match. 

Tuesday to Thursday: 5pm-1am
Friday: 3pm-2am
Saturday: 4pm-2am

All photos by Wil Lee-Wright / Britannia Hotel, unless otherwise specified in the caption.

Published 12th September 2022

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