Chatting with Daníel Hlynur Michaelsson—the manager extraordinaire of local bohème-haunt Bar Ananas—feels more like chatting to a yoga guru. With a demeanor so sunny, relaxed, and positive, he seems more fitted to Burning Man than downtown Reykjavík.
“There’s something about [working nights] here that I can’t explain, but I love. it’s just fantastic,” Daníel tells me. Though he’s been at BarAnanas for just about two years, he’s been in the bar business for many years longer. “The worst thing about it is that it’s definitely very hard to have meetings before twelve—that’s like no way—or catch brunch.” He says everything with a smile, joking but also not. During our interview, Daníel encourages me to try whale steak, describing the flavour with an acute accuracy. He’s clearly a foodie, so maybe missing brunch is really distressing.
This precision for taste made him immediately love cocktails. “For a cocktail, you’re working for like two weeks from the concept, tweaking it, trying to find the X-factor. Then you finally find it and get this overwhelming sense of happiness and full-on passion.” He likes working with wild Icelandic herbs and urban foraging—the New Nordic approach.
As a bar worker, Daníel is, obviously, intimately familiar with Icelandic drinking culture. “It’s not handled like a marathon, but a sprint. Five Fernet-Branca shots! Let’s fucking do it. Then you just puke all over the bar.” He says this affectionately with a we’ve-all-been-there attitude and smile. “They drink like motherfuckers here. I like it.”
But working at night does have drawbacks—more than just missing brunch. “Being in this business, you really have to keep yourself in check. Everything is too accessible. It can mess people up.” But he concentrates on himself and his professional goals, which are fittingly also night-related. He’s learning how to DJ and planning more concerts for BarAnanas. Dream one? “Biggie Smalls. Can you imagine? In this venue? Hell yeah.”
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