Three years ago, Julie and Tine took a trip to Barcelona and instantly fell in love with the culture and the city’s signature drink, Vermouth. So much that they decided to bring a bit of both back to Denmark. They took a Christiania bike, put on some bright dresses and colorful ribbons and invited Danes for a glass of Vermouth in the streets of Copenhagen.
As the locals loved the idea as much as Julie and Tine, they quickly became popular and today the Vermouth Søndag bar is still strolling around Denmark, serving Spanish vermouth with a slice of orange and a green olive.
Culture Trip sat down with founders Julie and Tine behind their cute moving bar and talked to us about how Vermouth Søndag have changed their lives, why it’s one of the best drinks out there, and revealed some of their favorite bars in Copenhagen where you’ll often find them hanging out and making plans for the future.
When and how did the two of you first meet?
We first met at a women’s camp organized by a mutual friend. We love going to this camp every year because we make good food, sing songs, skinny-dip, braid flowers in each other’s hair and just enjoy being in nature with other women. So, basically, we met in a very sensuous, magical and pleasurable environment.
How did the idea of opening a moving bar come about?
One grey day in March we got bored and a bit drunk, so we booked two tickets to Barcelona. We needed sun, colors and a sparkling atmosphere. We packed all of our colorful dresses, big hats and lipsticks and off we went. In Barcelona, we drank vermouth in the sun every day. It was just lovely. We wanted to bring it back home – not only the vermouth but also the whole vibe around it. We kept saying, ‘We wish we could do this at home’, and on the last day of our trip, we decided that we would just do it ourselves. We came home and invited all of our friends to an afternoon of vermouth on the local square of our neighbourhood. It was then Vermouth Søndag was born! We chose a moving bar because of the freedom it entails and because we can share it with people anywhere. We’ve brought it to the deep Danish countryside as well as the quais of Paris. Well, we have to admit, we always wanted to run away with a circus, and now in a way we have created our own little circus that brings us so many adventures and fun!
What led to the decision to serve vermouth and not another drink?
It’s unpretentious, tastes really wonderful and it brings people together. Moreover, we love the whole apéritif culture where it’s not about getting shit-faced on the weekend, but more like a sweet little afternoon moment where you pause time in good company. After diving more into it, we discovered a whole universe with long traditions, great stories and a huge variety of style and taste. It’s just so interesting. Also before bringing it back home, it was associated with old dusty grandmas and being awfully drunk and broke as a teenager. We wanted to change that.
Danes are known for being reserved, especially with strangers. What are the reactions you’ve gotten from fellow Danes when introducing Vermouth Søndag?
It’s been our mission from the beginning to make an accessible, unpretentious and loving atmosphere – to bring people together from all different kinds of groups and different ages. This has proven to be very easy, actually. No persuasion was needed – everybody just came along and brought beautiful energy and all of their friends. We have regulars in their 60s as well as guests in their 20s. That makes us very happy.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced since the opening of Vermouth Søndag?
The number one challenge is the alcohol permission that we need to apply for every single time we host an event. That can be a bore when you sometimes just wanna ride out on a sunny day and drink vermouth with the people. Another challenge is not to get too carried away by other people’s ideas and ambitions for us but to get lost in all of the cool possibilities that Vermouth Søndag has brought along. We constantly struggle with finding the balance in exploring new collaborations, territories and services but at the same time keep the original idea of simplicity, pleasure, freedom and enjoying life with good people.
How has this experience affected your outlook on life?
It may sound cheesy but it has confirmed and strengthened our belief in how following our hearts and weird ideas lead to rich lives. Not always money-wise, but definitely when it comes to adventures, pleasure, new knowledge, magic stories and encounters. Saying ‘yes’ to the world just makes it so much bigger and way more fun. We feel less scared getting involved in new projects, both in Vermouth Søndag but also in our lives in general.
Are there any plans on expanding Vermouth Søndag to other countries?
The beautiful (sometimes frustrating) thing about Vermouth Søndag is that you/we never know what will be next. It follows the beat of our lives and as they change in intensity so does Vermouth Søndag. But we were on a European tour last summer with our bar in the back of a van. It was a dream come true and the most magical adventure we have ever been on. Sometimes we still pinch ourselves to remind us that it really happened. We would always be open for an experience like that again!
What cocktail would you recommend to someone stopping by Vermouth Søndag for the first time?
We don’t really do cocktails. We are not so much bartenders as we are two friends pouring vermouth. Vermouth is very complex and rich, so we like to keep the serving simple. Sometimes we add a splash of soda or tonic water. We always add a bit of garnish, though. We started with the Spanish vermouth, and as it was a good place for us to start, we often recommend it for beginners. We serve it straight on ice with a slice of orange and a green olive. Salud!
Where do you go for some downtime with good drinks when you’re not serving delicious drinks?
We both live in Nørrebro, and we love the area, so most of the time we just stay put. Very often we go to Gaarden & Gaden på Nørrebrogade. They have a great natural wine and liquor selection and good, simple, high-quality food too. It’s a great place to just go for a glass after work and hang out. The atmosphere is local, so often you meet people you know and just join them at their table and, who knows? Maybe you end up sharing a risotto. Sometimes we also have coffee meetings in the mornings – it just works all day.
Another favourite is Bar//Kronborggade 3. It’s more like a small, dark dive bar, but they have a great beer and spirit selection and they often play good music. Again, what we love about this place is a local atmosphere that seems to bring people together.
The owner also has another bar called Himmeriget that we also go to a lot. It’s not as dive-like, but there is a really good ambience, excellent beer and they also have a great bourbon selection. At both bars, they make simple but very interesting drinks, and that is always a pleasure. Dilligencen is a place we go when we want the old school Danish pub feel. The beers are cheap, you can smoke inside and play pool in the back. All kinds of people come there – the oldtimers and regulars in the bar and the younger generation at the tables. It’s easy, fun and classic.
An old-time favourite of ours that just still works is Kind of Blue. It’s just cosy and grown up and the atmosphere is leaned back. They play jazz and old rock and they serve strong drinks and good Belgian beer.
Finally, our friend Carl is opening a new vermouth bar called Paloma. It’s opening in May (we think, and it is just around the corner from our places. So we’re pretty sure we’ll be hanging there the whole summer!
Oh, and we also love to just grab a cold beer from the fridge at our favourite liquor store in Copenhagen, Den Sidste Dråbe, and sit on their red bench out front and watch the people walk by and talk to neighbours.
What can we expect from Vermouth Søndag in the future?
You can expect more events, more collaborations and more fun. Last year we made a vermouth with the Danish wine producer Vexebo and the Danish vodka producer Den Klodsede Bjørn. We only produced around 200 bottles, but it was a lot of fun and a great success, so we’ll be doing that again this year. This year, though, we will be making it on an orange wine, so that will be very exciting. We also plan to travel around Denmark to the smaller towns and islands. We did the European tour last year; this year we’ll do Tour de Denmark. That is what we know so far, but like we said, we never know where this little circus bar of ours is gonna take us!