Words by Ashley Pini and Angus Winchester
The cocktail world was left reeling on 28th July 2022 when it was announced that British bartender and godfather of the Danish cocktail and nightlife scene, Gromit Eduardsen had been killed in an accident at his kegged cocktail factory. He was 44 and leaves behind his wife Kathrine and two small children.
The following is a combination of pieces written by Ashley Pini and Angus Winchester, a good friend of Gromit's who contacted us immediately after hearing the tragic news. Ashley interviewed Gromit in 2018 for a piece sponsored by Cherry Heering in celebration of the brand's then 200-year anniversary and mentions Angus in the interview. Gromit was asked to choose a notable year in Heering's two centuries and choose 2009, saying "so many good things happened this year; my daughter was born, we opened our first standalone bar, 1105 Bols Genever was launched in Denmark and the bar was then awarded a prize for being one of the town's best bars."
Born Robert Spragg at a British Military Hospital in Germany in 1978 to military parents who often moved between Germany and England's West Midlands. He turned to hospitality the week before his 17th birthday to fund his love of skiing and landed a job washing dishes in a kitchen in the small Alpine town of Kitzbhuel where he was given the nickname Gromit by the other ski instructors as he was so small.
Having enjoyed the "family-like atmosphere of the mountains," he moved on to the Viennese bar scene, washing ashtrays and glasses at a beer bar in Vienna's 7th district, working his way up the ranks to become a bartender. Gromit met his wife-to-be Kathrine in Vienna and they moved to Copenhagen where he quickly established himself as both a bartender and businessman. The couple married in 2006 and he took her surname to show his love for her.
During the early days of his career, "a rock and roll kinda guy", showed him how to make a gin fizz. He told Ashley, "Amazed, I watched him with style put the items in the shaker, including the soda. As the shaker exploded in his face giving him a black eye, I realised this cocktail stuff was for me; but I was sure it could be done better!"
Utilising the tips he made bartending, Gromit "went drinking at Viennese cocktail bars to watch and learn from the good guys what the industry was all about". It was in one such bar that he was introduced to American Bar: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, by Charles Schumann. "This was the start of my cocktail journey".
Recognising that "the better you made drinks, the better tips you made," Gromit spent his time behind the bar wisely, as well as taking every opportunity to learn from others. His time in Austria finished in Lech, working in a classic cocktail and cigar bar, along with a cocktail club during the later hours.
He then made the move to Copenhagen where he was first introduced to Angus Winchester, then presenting the history of Tanqueray and Cocktails as a brand ambassador. "It occurred to me that there was more to this than just surviving. Angus took my bartending from just a way of me making money for my next beer, to my life's vocation."
Gromit enjoyed regaling his guests with the stories and history of the brands and products he used behind the bar: "These stories, told in my personal style alongside producing drinks at a decent speed, had the ability to capture my guest's attention." His popularity with his guests continued to grow and gave him a good standing position as a recognised bartender in Denmark.
It was Gromit's belief that making a patron's night special went well beyond just what was in the glass. "I have been the catalyst for the start of relationships; people getting married and even having kids. That's the power of being a good bartender."
"I see a good drink and great atmosphere as the fuel of room for people dancing. You could say being the driver of a good vibe is my passion."
For Gromit, there are a few elements of bartending that held the utmost importance; "The history of the bar, its purpose in society and the importance of good service. A good bar is more than just a decent drink; a good bartender manages the atmosphere of a good bar".
Gromit worked at or founded some of Denmark's top bars including Bar Rouge at the Skt Petrie hotel, the Fox hotel and bar 1105 where he mentored some of the city's top talents including Hardeep Rayhal. Other highlights included winning the Cherry Heering sponsored competition to create a cocktail for Copenhagen in 2009.
In 2015, he became obsessed with kegged cocktails as a way of bringing quality cocktails to larger audiences and launched several companies supplying both other less mixological bars as well as music festivals and the like.
Almost universally loved and admired by those who knew him he will be missed due to his unflagging positivity, passion for hospitality in general and rum in particular and desire to help and grow his community.
Garnish: Orange zest twist
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
50 ml Bols Genever
20 ml Cherry Heering cherry brandy
20 ml Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
10 ml Sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters