Meet Pusser’s Rum Bartender on Deck Erik Holmberg
Erik Holmberg of Burlock in London, England.
Tell me about yourself. What’s your background, and how did you end up as a mixologist?
My name is Erik Holmberg. I was born in Berlin but was raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. I have been living in London for a little more than a year and am currently bar-tending at a fairly new rum bar in central London called Burlock. I was going to do a gap year before starting university and started off doing a season in the Austrian Alps. When it was time to go back to school, I didn’t really feel it anymore since working in bars was so much fun, so I decided to stay in the industry and moved to London shortly after.
What’s your favorite rum drink? Recipe?
I would have to go with a Mai Tai on this one. I like mine with a flavourful, over proof rum – Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof works wonders here! I use dry curacao, lime, orgeat, and finish it off with a dash of bitters.
Erik’s Mai Tai:
2 ounces Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum
1/2 ounce dry curacao
1/4 ounce Orgeat
Squeeze fresh lime
Dash of bitters
Please tell me about your personal connection to rum. Why choose rum over another spirit?
I feel that most other main spirit categories have a very streamlined way of production – the location where the spirit is produced, the stills you use, the barrels for ageing, and so on. With rum (depending on your location, of course) you can decide “I feel like doing this today,” and you can, which I believe fuels creativity in a different way than other spirits do. That in turn creates brilliant products. On the other hand, the freedom means responsibility to the rum community and unfortunately not all producers take that to heart. It’s some sort of love hate relationship I suppose.
What do you think the future holds for the rum industry?
With a lot of people doing their own thing, I believe we are going to see a lot of interesting products. Some of them might not be the greatest we’ve ever tried, but I believe some will be what we’ve been looking for our entire careers, maybe even without knowing that was what we wanted.
What inspires you creatively when it comes to making drinks?
Working around a concept or serve is great because then you know what you want it to end up like and you can use that as a reference. Sometimes, I just get ideas of flavour combinations that pop into my head and work from that, trying different things to see if they fit together. It’s nothing but trial and error and learning from the mistakes you make.
Please tell me about your greatest achievement in relation to the spirits industry.
I am fortunate enough to work with and meet some of the greatest minds in the industry on a daily basis. I enjoy conversations about whatever it might be, and at the end of the day, going to sleep knowing that I’ve learned something I didn’t know when I woke up.
Any other interesting facts? Hobbies? Special talents? How can people learn more about you? (Social media handles, website, etc.)
I am very passionate about music. I’ve been playing drums for about 10 years, and have also played guitar and bass on and off during that time. Back in Sweden, I used to play in a few bands, but unfortunately it doesn’t really go well together with a bartenders schedule.
Snowboarding is also something I really enjoy doing. There is something about hitting fresh powder that is incredibly relaxing.