Sometimes a visit to a bar for one drink turns into ten drinks. And sometimes it turns into an awesome tour of the venue.
The latter (and also the former) happened last summer at Mr. Mofongo, a beautiful venue in Groningen that consists of several worlds: the Restaurant, the Greenhouse, the Rooftop Winebar and -of course- the Cocktailbar!
Mr. Mofongo's cocktail menu is in one word: solid. With categories like Sweet & Refreshing, Classic, Cheeky Tiki and (my favourite) Strong & Complex this menu has something for everyone.
And after a cocktail or two, probably like everyone else there, we ended up talking to the bartender and waitress about the obvious eye-catcher of the bar:
A wide robotic arm that glides over an 8-metre-high wall all evening to pick up distillates and liqueurs. Wow!
The lovely Linda told us that the wall contains no less than 56 jars of unique spirits, about 80% of which are made in-house.
"In-house? So you ferment and distill your own liquor here?"
"Yes, indeed! Would you like a tour?"
- And off we go...
We start at the wine bar where even more contrivances await us: A second robot-arm, but this time underneath a glass plate in the floor which - while the arm does its thing - displays which wine is being picked up, including flavour notes and origin!
And a continuously rotating basket above the bar to prevent the wine glasses from clogging up.
On to the lab, where new concepts for spirits are thought up and worked out every day. Past the herb room and the whiskey maturation room to the fermentation room.
This is where magic happens: the creation of alcohol by adding water, sugar and yeast, one floor above the cocktail bar! Next door are the essential stills where the alcohol is separated from the water to get their end-products pure and high in alcohol.
And the end-products don't lie, some can even be found in local liquor stores! It's been a long time, but I still dream of their rhubarb liqueur!
We end at the chef's table, where guests are served something truly unique: the chance to create their own liqueur! Above the dining table hangs a smaller table that can be hoisted down. On it are all the ingredients (neutral alcohol, botanical ingredients and some flavourings) for the guests to make their own composition. This composition is distilled in the mini pot-still during dinner and is ready for consumption around coffee time. Brilliant!
Apart from the luxurious setting, we also really enjoyed the atmosphere in the cocktail bar and the cheerful staff. It is clear that adventure and hospitality is in the DNA of the owner, who has based the name of his restaurant on an existing person! You can read this story, and the reason why Mr. Mofongo's cocktail bar was voted the best cocktail bar in the Netherlands in 2017, on their website: www.mofongo.nl