People always talk about this or that city’s exciting cocktail scene. Most of the time, it means that the city hosts bars that attract the attention of the international media. But what about the locals? Shouldn’t we rather say that cocktails are making it big in a given city when neighborhood bars, made and patronized by people who actually live in the city, find success? In Munich, often said to be one of Germany’s top cocktail cities with Berlin and Cologne, Zephyr Bar wins on both scores: owners describe it as a neighborhood bar and outside observers praise its quality. The best of both worlds, really.
For current co-owner Lukas Motejzik, the adventure started almost eight years ago. As a recent school graduate, he walked into Zephyr and point blank asked the owner if he could work there and « learn something », because he thought it was « the best bar in town ». Lo and behold, he was told to step behind the bar and clean glasses. « I’d do the cleaning on weekends, and would sit at the bar on Mondays and Tuesdays to try the drinks, learn about cocktails and taste spirits », he recalls. « My initial calling was cooking. When I was 10, I’d sometimes cook my own meal. So I was thinking about becoming a chef, but standing in a hot kitchen, far from the guest, is not as attractive as working in the most beautiful room, side by side with the guys ». And Lukas got to make cocktails. From unpaid trainee, he become salaried bartender. And then some of the staff left and he asked the new ownership if he could still work with them. He is now one of the owners. « It’s a crazy story, all about circumstances », he now admits.
Under him, Zephyr’s name has grown internationally, but Lukas never lost sight of its core clientele. « I like to make drinks people want to have. Our menu is a nice, varied selection, but it’s built on sweet and sour flavors. We try to offer crowd pleasers, easy drinks to sell in a neighborhood bar ». This being said, some of the flavors are bold and quite advanced, with verjus and galangal featuring in some of the drinks. For a local bar, especially in Munich, it is quite daring: « Here, people are used to cocktails, but not necessarily great classics such as Martinis, Manhattans or Old Fashioned. They want Singapore Slings and Piña Coladas. And, because they start drinking quite early, they love wine spritzes. Munich is good, but it’s not Paris or London, and we need time to get there ».
At Zephyr, they are doing their part for the further education of the local clientele, but where they might be doing even more is in Rosenheim, a student town where Lukas and his partners have recently opened Lausa Bar. « We have to tone down things even more here, because if you use crazy ingredients, the students will say ‘what is this, I’m not drinking it’. So we’re making classic drinks but we put one creative ingredient, like a homemade syrup or espuma. At the moment, it’s enough. We’ll see what happens in one or two years, and maybe this will become a game-changer for us ».
Today’s students will become tomorrow’s mature students. And, hopefully, sometime down the line, they will help grow the ranks of Zephyr’s clientele. Or whatever new establishment the team working with Lukas decides to launch: « We work really well together, we’re open to opportunities and we’ll see what happens ». On top of Zephyr and Lausa Bar, they also own Herzog, « a whole day concept — coffee, lunch, dinner, cocktails — with a fine dining restaurant, a bar and a big terrace » and a recently opened ice cream shop. The world is theirs, probably.