He may have a Michelin-starred kitchen at his disposal, but you won’t find bartender Oskar Kinberg – one of the creative minds behind acclaimed London restaurant Hide –  raiding the cupboards for obscure ingredients. Here, Kinberg delves into the inner workings of a well-executed menu and shares two simple cocktail recipes you can make at home…

Serving up unfussy cocktails with a culinary twist, Hide’s menu is the culmination of 15 years’ bartending experience, which began when Kinberg moved to London from Sweden in early 2005. After seven years of tending bars around London – including private members’ The Cuckoo Club – Kinburg opened Michelin-starred Dabbous and Oskar’s Bar with business partner and chef, Ollie Dabbous.

The duo went on to meet Yevgeny Chichvarkin and Tatiana Fokina – the couple behind Mayfair’s Hedonism Wines – and together, they opened Michelin-starred dining experience, Hide, in 2018. The capital’s most eagerly-awaited restaurant opening in years, Hide is split across three levels: fining dining restaurant ‘Above’, all day restaurant and bakery ‘Ground’, and basement bar ‘Below’. 

Naturally, Below stocks a jaw-dropping selection of fine and rare spirits. But for us, the biggest draw is the cocktail list. ‘Whether the main flavour is a spirit, fruit or a vegetable, our aim is to present it in the very best way we can, using both modern and classic techniques,’ Hide Below’s website reads. As such, the menu changes seasonally, ‘so we can always use our favourite ingredients when they taste their best’, it continues.

Oskar Kinberg looking pensive

You’ll find drinks like the Creamed Corn Soda, made with Bulleit Bourbon, sweetcorn, Angostura bitters and soda, and Pineapple Express, which combines fortified muscat, pineapple, cardamom, bay leaf, and fino sherry. The classics have been given a twist, too – the Dry Martini is stirred with frozen birch sap instead of ice, ‘to give it a silky mouthfeel and a luxurious, soft finish’. Here, we caught five with Kinberg to find out more:


MoM: Who or what would you say are your biggest creative influences when it comes to shaping your bartending style and approach to designing drinks?

Oskar Kinberg: It has changed a lot over the years. As I started out it was very much about replicating other people’s work and classics and modifying them slightly. I think this is probably quite common. Next step was more like a stage of challenges – someone would say, ‘I bet you can’t make a nice drink with this’, handing me a disgusting ingredient, and then I would make something palatable with it. My standard answer now would probably be, ‘Why would I want to?’ I try to find inspiration in things that naturally sound delicious rather than the obscure and unknown. If you put nice things in the shaker, you usually get a good end result. You’re less likely to get a drink made with strawberries sent back than a drink with squid ink. I know this not only because it makes sense to everyone, but also because I’ve had a drink on a menu with squid ink, and it got very mixed reviews. To sum up, I try to only make drinks that I think our guests will enjoy.  

MoM: What sets Hide apart from your previous projects in terms of the equipment you use and the way you have approached the menu?

OK: The team is much bigger and our equipment is much nicer. Even so, our menu is smaller than previous places I have worked in. I personally find it draining reading a tome of cocktails when I get to a bar and much prefer to have a shorter menu of well-executed drinks. Guests always order mainly from the first two pages anyway. With that said, we have two pages of cocktails. Page one is the more seasonal one with more fresh ingredients. These drinks are long, light and fresh and based around fruits and berries. Page two is for spirit aficionados and the drinks there are more booze-forward. As such, not as seasonally-bound – more seasonal in an emotional way. Winter time would see more warm spices and summer would use lighter, fruitier flavours, while still being boozy. We obviously offer all the usual classics as well. We prefer saying yes rather than no to any request, however odd it may be. 

MoM: We love the sound of a Martini stirred with frozen birch sap instead of ice. Could you share any other inventive ways you’ve used ingredients or techniques to add texture to drinks?

OK: Thank you, I like it too! The best other example would be our Cross-Eyed Mary. We’re not the only ones doing a clarified Mary but it’s the best one I’ve tried. We make a tomato consommé with fresh tomatoes, basil, and spices and then combine this with a vodka washed with olive oil and a little bit of dry sherry. It’s really light and elegant. It’s more of a drink than a meal, as is the case with its Bloody sibling. We have a lot of regulars coming back just for this drink and they rave about it worldwide, bringing friends down to the bar from all corners of the world. We even had Jethro Tull’s manager – the band whose song the drink is named after – email us and inquire about it in a humorous ‘do not cease and desist’ email. I’m still waiting for them to pop in to try it though. 

“A good bartender is not the person that makes the best drinks, but the person that makes you feel the most at home”

MoM: Which drink(s) on the menu receives the most compliments from guests? What’s in it, how is it made, and why do people love it?

OK: Other than Cross-Eyed Mary, I would say that Adam & Eve is very popular. It’s a milk punch with fig leaf, rum, cider brandy and spices. This is a drink that goes against everything I’ve previously said, but comes out really clean and elegant. The balance is amazing, according to myself, and it’s very difficult to dislike it. We serve it very simply on a block of ice with no garnish. It looks like a glass of water but the flavours are amazing. Fig leaf tastes a bit like coconut, but not in a sunscreen way – a little bit greener. 

MoM: Is distilling your own spirit or liqueur something you’re interested in experimenting with, or do you prefer to bring different ingredients and flavours together in a bar setting?

OK: I don’t think so. Plenty of people are very good at it and certainly have a head start. I think I’m happiest when mixing other people’s spirits and liqueurs together. I would probably be more keen on getting in later in the production stage and learning about blending, etcetera. Never say never, though! 

MoM: They say every day’s a school day – what do you wish you knew when you started bartending that you know now? 

OK: Cocktails are a small proportion of bartending. A good bartender is not the person that makes the best drinks, but the person that makes you feel the most at home. There is also an element of work that needs to be done behind the scenes. Setting up and making sure your prep is good is as important as putting things away right at the end of the night and cleaning down. If this all fails you will end up looking like a fool anyway. If you have the discipline to do this well every day and every night you will be rewarded for it in the long run.  

MoM: Could you share a cocktail recipe or two that our readers could make at home?

OK: Ja. Not many of the drinks we make at Hide Below are that easy to replicate at home, I guess that’s why you come to us instead. Here is a perfect summer cocktail called Fallen Madonna. It’s fresh, fragrant and made with ingredients you can find in a supermarket. I’ve also included the recipe for an old favourite; Fizzy Rascal, also light, fresh and perfect in the warmer weather.  

The Fallen Madonna (perhaps a reference to ‘Allo ‘Allo)

Fallen Madonna

50ml Tanqueray gin
35ml flat tonic water
25ml aloe vera juice
12.5ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup

Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker, shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with cubed ice. Garnish with pea shoots and flowers.

Fizzy Rascal

50ml Chopin potato vodka
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml elderflower cordial
25ml apple juice
2 sage leaves
1 slice cucumber
Prosecco to top

Combine all ingredients in a shaker except prosecco, shake and strain. Serve in a Highball glass filled with cubed ice and top with prosecco. Garnish with extra sage leaves.