Gaston Winebar, The Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden *****

Q: What is it. A: A wine bar. A cool, collected, confident and competent wine bar, where you can casually walk in and ask for something to drink, which often means you’ll leave hours later, educated, reinvigorated and happy.

Gaston Winebar – Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden – the one and only Zvonko Sokcic
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” (quote: E. Hemingway not Z. Sokcic)

Gaston Winebar – Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden – the communal table
The communal table at Gaston. Sometimes you find me here. More often you find me in the other corner trying to pick up little nuggets of knowledge from the gentlemen manning the bar.

Gaston Winebar – Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden – a high-end hot dog
A result of sharing the kitchen with the gastro pub The Flying Elk: Hot dog made from a sausage of parmesan and happy pig. Gruyère, creamed cabbage and leeks, Moutarde d´Orleans, bone marrow and garlic fried mushrooms will make the creation complete and presto! – a pretty high-end ”Korv med bröd”.

Gaston Winebar – Old Town, Stockholm, Sweden – looking in through the window
Not a big place. But if I have to list my top-three wine bars in the world, this will definitely be one of them!

Love songs tend to be boring.
It’s like trying to write a song about a cute little kitten resting in Lemmy Kilmister’s lap. Yes, a little furball that you want to love to bits. My kitten is a wine bar. I have adopted it. It’s mine. Now, certain love songs tend to convey a feeling of acute gastrointestinal inflammation. Despite this, I will try to deliver a fair and balanced ballad of affection for Gaston and the guys who work there. From a rational point of view, this pocket-sized temple of taste is mainly about three things: Food, wine and people (not necessarily in that order).

Let’s start with the food.
The guys at Gaston Winebar share their food menu with gastro pub The Flying Elk. The pub is the brainchild of Björn Frantzén, the man with the name above the door of the 2-star Restaurant Frantzén (voted #12 in The World’s 50 Best). His vision of a place offering proper pub grub comes to life in the pretty badass hot dog you see in the photo above. Or the most luxurious version of Fish & Chips known to man (cod, chips fried three times, curry remoulade and fried parsley). Did I mention the high-octane creation of scallops with pommes paille? No, I think I did not.

Actually, it’s not all about wine at Gaston…
The knowledge of wine accumulated behind the little bar is quite impressive* and most often you will be exposed to said knowledge by the glass. My personal modus operandi is to just sit down and let the recommendations of the day lead me through the evening. The taste buds of these guys are all different, which means that it’s a constantly educating and taste expanding journey. Zvonko’s personal motto is ”thou must not die curious” which matches the explanatory tag line for Gaston: Wine Exploring. That’s what you do here. It should also be noted that boys are also huge fans of better beers, armed with the knowledge to not recommend the hipsters’ favorite IPA (yea, from that hyped microscopic brewery tucked underneath a brick building in Poughkeepsie) just because it’s the flavor of the month. Here, knowledge kicks hype’s ass seven days a week.

It’s about the guest.
It’s quite a line-up. These guys just know. If Zvonko can not make you happy by suggesting excellent wines from the Californian Central Coast district, then presenting and serving them with what is almost an overdose of friendly knowledge and enthusiasm… well, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Gaston recently won the wine bar category at the Bartenders’ Choice Awards 2013. Their response to the nomination is quite telling: We were missing a wine bar that was in tune with times. A wine bar which is more a bar than a library of wine. If you’re in doubt where to find me in Stockholm, start with Gaston. The atmosphere makes this place an addictive place to find oneself in. And yes, I enjoy it responsibly.

My apologies to the fine gentlemen at Gaston for comparing you to a cute kitty. But as you all know, I do want to hug you. Yes, dear Sirs. Every day.

Gaston Vinbar
Mälartorget 15
111 28 Stockholm


*Just to underline the almost crazy concentration of wine knowledge and experience that is one of the cornerstones of Gaston: The legendary Zvonko Sokcic (pictured above) – used to head the kitchen at Edsbacka Krog. He’s also a former partner of KB and Conny & Zvampen. Johan Agrell – former sommelier and restaurant manager of Fäviken Magasinet (currently holding the #34 slot on The World’s 50 Best-list). Fredrik Lundberg – held a position as chief sommelier at Esperanto when he was recruited by world sommelier champion Andreas Larsson to become the Don Mega of wine at PM & Vänner in Växjö. Jon Lacotte – the restaurant manager of Restaurang Frantzén since they first opened their doors as Frantzén/Lindeberg in 2008.

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