Bragi and his business partner Arnar watched a YouTube tutorial before laying the floor of their new bar, Veður. The flowerpots that line the back of the bar were designed by Bragi’s wife, Krístjana, and the chairs downstairs are an original design of his grandfather’s. Bragi points upward at the ceiling; he knows the measurements of every layer of material that separates him from the unit above. Along the top shelf of the bar behind Bragi’s head is a glimmering row of multi-coloured bitters and syrups which he and the bartenders, as you might have guessed, make from scratch.
Bragi is a craftsman. His favourite part of working in the bar business is the creative process. And like any good craftsman, having complete knowledge of your foundation is essential—from nailing wood into the walls to skinning lemons for the bitters. We hold out our wrists and he taps beads of their homemade mandarin, ginger and clove syrups onto our skin. The mandarin syrup is light and sweet, the ginger syrup bites before it settles, the clove syrup is Christmas itself.
The creation process is not limited to after-hours meet-ups and sampling behind the bar. “It all happens here, during business hours,” Bragi says. “We need the feedback, we need the interaction,” he continues, gesturing back and forth across the bar and before serving us a glass of homemade Limoncello. “What do you think?”
“There are eight drinks in the world; everything else is based on those drinks,” he tells us. “If you know your base, then you are more likely to have success branching out.” While they do have a regularly revolving list of beers and wines, Veður’s specialty is their meticulously crafted twelve-cocktail menu. Their Moscow Mule uses Brennivín instead of vodka, their Kamikaze is taken like a shot. Everyone behind the bar is a specialist in a certain of cocktail. The night we visit, one is an expert in the espresso martini, the other an artisan of the Dark & Stormy. Bragi’s specialty? “Everything old school,” he answers definitively.
“Lately I’ve been watching YouTube tutorials of Japanese carpentry,” Bragi says. “Everything is in the details, for example: their saws. When we saw materials it is a pushing motion. For them it is a pull. The teeth are angled the other way. It is much easier this way,” he confirms. “And they exaggerate their imperfections,” he continues, then heads to the other end of the bar to serve a new group of customers. Opening a new bar is a process, and each day an opportunity to create, experiment and improve. For Bragi and co., Veður starts from the ground up.
Check them out at Klapparstígur 33. Happy hour everyday from 16:00-19:35.
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