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Cocktail culture in Helsinki is relatively new but that doesn’t mean that it’s not growing at a dizzying pace.
Changing the way people perceive ‘having a drink’ is one of A21’s missions in this town, one of the first cocktail lounges to be established in 2007 when there were few others around. The décor caters for party groups as well as intimate one-on-one dates where you can draw the curtain and cosy up on the sofa with satin cushions. The mixologists are experts at concocting drinks that range from the ordinary gin and tonic to the Stella, an exotic combo made with raspberry vinegar for acidity and a full-bodied blend of Finnish red and black currants. But even the mundane is something quite extraordinary in this exquisite venue.
Unsurpassable views of Helsinki city can be seen from Ateljee Bar on the top, top floor (reached by a spiral staircase) of Torni Hotel. The loos are the best in town; they're glass enclosed so you can spot the tiny specimens walking on the streets below. You’re up in the clouds with your handmade cocktail, which is right up there in quality. Try their Apple Sour, green apple with just a hint of aniseed and plenty of freshness.
Hovering between floors on a mezzanine is Sling In Bar in Aikatalo. Heavy metal is the choice of music and can get to you if you’re not a fan, since decibel levels can pierce the eardrum; but for low-cost, decent cocktails, this is the place. The classics like Singapore Sling and mojitos are all on the menu but they also have their own innovations like the green Holy Diver and 69 Iced Tea. If you’re wondering about the names on the plaques, these are the brave souls who have dared to drink the entire list, much the worse for wear afterwards.
Get a whiff of the islands in Kokomo Tiki Bar & Room with their funky décor and masks. It’s laid back and easy, with music to daydream to. Get transported with Anthony Bourdain’s favourite drink, Dark & Stormy, a mix of 80-proof Demerara rum and ginger beer, strong and bitter. Customers’ suggestions include Kokomo Zombie with an insane amount of three different rums and fresh fruit and juices, or the popular Mai Tai with hints of lime, almond and orange.