An Interview with Hausbar, Bristol

  • Sharebar

Isn't it peculiar that we will go to a lot of effort to enjoy good food. Travelling all over the country to visit either celebrity chef's establishments or those all conquering Michelin star venues.
The price often irrelevant as long as it is up to a good standard. Yet we never seem to do the same in order to experience top quality drinks in plush surroundings, which are always going to lend themselves to a much more amiable and effervesent atmosphere too.

I for one am guilty of the former but since Hausbar in Bristol has come on my radar, maybe I will make the cocktails the centre of attention for once and dining can sit on the back burner.
This beautiful bar has been in Bristol since 2006 and with owner Aurelius Braunbarths' German background he has added a certain European class to the nightlife of Bristol. 

Auri grew up in his father's Michelin Starred restaurant and has worked in restaurants and bars for 25 years. Bringing his passion and knowledge for cocktails and first class service, Hausbar stands out from the crowd. 

 What was your vision in bringing Hausbar (a cocktail bar in particular) to Bristol?image from hausbar.co.uk
I don't see Hausbar as a cocktail bar. Even though we sell more cocktails than anything else (95% of sales are cocktails). The idea was to create a bar where one is well looked after in a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Where the guests don't have to do or worry about anything else, but to enjoy their night out. This includes table service (rather than queuing at the bar), run a tab rather than paying every drink immediately, have some easy background music that doesn't force you to shout in order to have a conversation.
Our door is always closed and we decide who comes in. This gives our guests the certainty that they are looked after and not have to deal with any drunk or other undesired people who just walk in.

What are your top selling cocktails? Do they differ by gender?
It used to be the mojito, but our drinks list is vast and people make use of it. Believe it or not, but men often go for the creamy option, while women prefer dry and bitter flavoured drinks like Campari and Campari Cocktails.

We all love Champagne based cocktails, eg bellinis and Kir Royales, which make great apertifs. Can you recommend a non-sparkling wine based aperitif, perhaps something we could make at home?
Let me just say that if you get a champagne cocktail which is mainly made out of flavourings with a hint of champagne, you are in the wrong place. As the name suggests, champagne is the main ingredients and the flavouring mixture should be small and just support and compliment the champagne. A 'Kir' would be the simplest drink. It is also a good option if someone brought you a bottle of white wine to your last party, but you don't think much of it. Add a little bit of Cassis in each glass, fill up with white wine and you have a good start for your dinner party. Make sure not to use too much Cassis. Remember: You can always add more, but can't take it out again.

When making wine-based cocktails, does the type(eg Chablis vs Pinot Grigio vs Gewurztraminer) make much difference? If so, is there one overall wine that usually fits the bill?
That depends on the drink you want to make. If you go for a fruity, sweet mixture to add to the wine, make sure your wine isn't too sweet and fruity already. And vice versa. Make sure your drink will be balanced. It is important to know what you are mixing with and what everything you use tastes like. When mixing drinks it is not important to use the most expensive ingredients, but the right ones for the drink you are making.

Which drink takes the longest to make? How do you maintain excellence during busy periods?
Mojitos take a while. The muddling can be time consuming. Extensive preparation is key. A sense of urgency without getting stressed is helpful. The rest is experience.

You have brought your German influences to the Hausbar, has England influenced you in any way that you would take back to Germany?
Patience.......:)

How do you train your mixologists? image from imbibe.com
Most people who start at Hausbar are mixologists to a certain extent, already. It is the bartending that needs to be taught. Mixing drinks is only a little part of bartending. Preparation, organisation, tidiness, cleanliness and most of all service are very important.
All this needs to be learned on the job being supervised. Courses or classes will never teach you the same thing. There are a lot of tedious jobs to be done every day.

Can anyone learn or do you need a special palate in the same way a good sommelier needs a good nose?
It is the same as it is with wine. Everybody can learn it to a certain degree. Some people have a more distinct palate than others. But you can train your palate. What is your favourite cocktail? That depends on my mood. Here are some examples: Bloody Mary (not too spicy), Gibson, Sazerac, Rum Sour.

 Why is a good cocktail bar such a rarity in Britain?
Mainly because bartending is still not fully accepted as a proper profession. Also amongst a lot of bar staff. A girl I worked with said once to me that she just managed to get a proper job. My answer was that bartending is a proper job when done properly... But things have got better and continue to do so.

 Have you a special antidote drink for hangovers?
It is actually very simple: The most important thing is always to drink water next to your alcoholic drink. The more the better. To be safe, stick to clear spirits (vodka, Gin, etc.). Avoid impurities such as aged whisky, rum, brandy and tannins (from an alcohol production point of view these are all impurities, but they add flavour). Not drinking these means to lose out on an amazing taste experience.
Once again it is all down to balance. For the next day, after you haven't done any of the above, the options are slim. Raw egg yolk helps. Drop one in a black coffee and down it in one. Or just have another alcoholic beverage. It won't make you sober or is in any way healthy, but it will ease the pain. 

Do you have any future projects, perhaps a restaurant with your background?
I am full of ideas. A restaurant is one of them. You'll be the first to know. Promise.

We look forward to that promise.

We are hoping Auri is going to provide us a few of his favourite wine based cocktail recipes. So watch this space!