Cane Rum Society & Geeki Tiki vibes
In October I had the great pleasure to visit Sweden continuing the #bartenderoftheweek Schweppes Edition project trying to find and interview the most prominent bartenders of different countries. The first bar I`ve visited in Stockholm was jaw-dropping. I`m talking about the Cane Rum Society where You can find over 1500 different rum bottles… and no gin or other hard spirits. The Cane Rum Society makes a clear statement “We`re all about rum”.
A very characteristic of Swedish bar culture is that You always have to sell food if You sell alcohol. So theoretically speaking there are no bars in Sweden, just restaurants… but in practice, it can look much different. I`ve come across a few venues that found their way around this law.
The Cane Rum Society offers You delicious Caribean cuisine aside from a wide rum collection and perfectly prepared rum cocktails.
Once You walk into the CRS it`s hard to leave. Jack Parker (bar manager) and Gianluca Manolio (bartender) welcome You with open hands, good jokes, a glass of Daiquiri and it immediately feels like home.
I asked them a few questions about the concept, took some pictures, and before I realized 5 hours and 6 Daiquiris have gone by 😉
Here`s the result of my interview with them. Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce You to Jack Parker and Gianluca Manolio, my hosts at the Cane Rum Society.
1. How do You find yourself on the foreign bar scene? What difficulties have You had to face on your career path in Stockholm? How did you overcome them?
Gio • I liked Stockholm’s bar scene since the beginning as it is always full of events and gathering occasions (at least before the pandemic). As an Italian person coming from the very south, lived two years in London and travelled a little bit all over Europe I must say that initially i suffered the huge cultural difference here.Swedish way of living life in general (which is also common among people in the hospitality business) is much less spontaneous than in other countries.Being exposed to confrontations with people around you, expressing own opinions, talking with no filters, sometimes having healthy discussions isn’t common among people over here.Personally I don’t really like it as I believe it is a too superficial way of living life that keeps people away from truly connect/ makes this process extremely slow.Apart from that, after two years I can say I have few but good friends and that’s quite all right for the moment.The focus is on the job
Jack•To be honest I’m still trying to figure it all out. Everyday I’m learning something new about the swedish way of life and the swedish drinking culture. The hardest thing at the start was definitely not knowing the language. I mean most people in stockholm speak great english so it was never really a problem, but it definitely makes your life 10 times easier if you understand a bit. I am pretty loud and really outgoing and like to give a personable service to my guests because its how I like to be served – unfortunately this is not always received so well here in sweden. Like I said, learning everyday!!
2. Describe the “Geeki-Tiki” concept. What’s it that all about? What are the fundaments and rules of it? What are the most quirky techniques You`ve used so far on your menu?
Jack• Geeki- Tiki is a growing idea revolving around rum cocktails using modern and sustainable bartending techniques, not specific to tiki style at all ha! Techniques including carbonation, and clarification. The phrase actually came from a phone call I had with a friend while trying to explain the type of cocktail programme I was going to set up here at CRS. I just sort of blurted it out and it ended up sticking.
3. How would You describe the unique, positive vibe in your team ( I mean the team of You two) ? What makes it work out this way?
Gio• There is a very nice vibe in the bar and people feel it by the time they come in as first of all they are welcomed in English which takes them figuratively to another place.And that’s when the adventure starts.Working-wise it’s really funny because Parker and me kind of complete each other.We are very different in the way we organize ourselves. Sometimes I tend to over complicate things while Jack does the opposite, trying to make everything more simple. “efficiency is not laziness” as Jack would say.And that’s the moment when together we take the best out of each other. I just love working with him.Also we have so much fun together as English and Italian mentality are more alike and we’re both full of energy and we extremely love what we do.
Jack• efficiency is not laziness, just trying to make our lives easier!! I mean we basically finish eachothers sentences, this really relates to the way we create drinks too. Most of the new drinks for the new menu have come from one of us having a drink that was “missing something” then the other one finds that “thing”. Itˋs pretty great to work with someone that has most of the same principles as you when it comes to bartending. Also absolutely hilarious to hear what ridiculous drink ideas Gio comes up with on a regular basis. It helps that we are both a bit nuts i suppose.
4. How would You describe the last half of the year of your career ? Has the pandemic situation changed anything drastically or caused any inconveniences in your private and professional life… or the oposite?
Gio •Well, I could actually write a whole book only related to the last six months of my career but I‘ll make it short.It’s been hard and extremely challenging. I left Stockholm when the pandemic was as its highest point and moved back to Dalarna where my adventure in Sweden started two years ago.I have two of my best italian friends there and this made everything easier.I cannot imagine what would have happened otherwise. The psychological impact that the pandemic has had on each of us may differ but I m sure it affected pretty much everyone.
Jack• Stressful. Having no job for 6 weeks was a bit rough, I mean I got lucky I guess because it was only 6 weeks – some people had it much worse. Trying to run around Stockholm to get someone to hire me was a mission, luckily I have some great friends that hooked me up. I started working out a lot more as our gyms didn’t close for that long. I spent much more time at home, which was nice. Looking back on it, it really wasn´t that bad for me actually, i even snuck in a cheeky 10 days in spain before we opened CRS!
5. What do You miss about your homeland the most ?
Gio• The family, the friends, the food and sunny winter days.I don’t think human beings should need more in life, to have a happy one.
Jack• The obvious answer is of course family and friends. aside from that the hospitality industry at home has so so much more to offer than Sweden, itˋs just so much more diverse.
6. What can one expect when walking through the door of the Cane Rum Society for the first time?
Jack•Youˋll receive a really genuine warm welcome from the happiest team in stockholm. Good vides and good tunes.
And rum, a shit load of rum.
Gio• Having a chef from St. Lucia and half of the staff from other countries give CRS a very international atmosphere so for those enter the bar:Take it easy, we’ll take care of you. The staff are very friendly, don’t be shy and ask for suggestions. We all believe in our product and concept and want people to fall in love with it too.
Eat Soul Drink Rum.