Wheeling Oslo – The Cocktail Trail

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She’s fuddled my fancy, she’s muddled me good
I’ve taken to drinking, and given up food
I’m buying an island, somewhere in the sun
I’ll hide from the natives, live only on rum

Procol Harum

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was I’ll never drink again. At least not cocktails. They are so small, colorful and seemingly innocent. But in reality powerful and dangerous. Just like a person with OI (brittle bone disease), when I think of it.
Only not this morning…

And it’s perhaps not so strange. Things got a little bit blurry after this conversation happening at one of our new favourite hangouts Human Mote:

Bartender: “So, what is you favourite drink then?”
André: “Maybe the VPB Daiquiri?”
Bartender: “Ah, you know what? I have strawberries in today. You want me to make you a strawberry daiquiri?”
Both of us: “Yes, please!”

The bartender guy at Human Mote looks a little bit like Steve Buschemi. This makes him a little bit scary. But with a bow & tie he also comes across as friendly. Underfundig, as we say in Norwegian. I never know what he’s thinking. Probably a good trait for a bartender.

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Anyway. There seem to be a new cocktail era going on in Oslo at the moment. For a while it was only beer, beer and beer. And microbreweries popping up on every corner. Or basement. But I don’t like to drink beer that much when I’m in bars. Usually bars have crappy disabled toilets. And when you drink beer, you have to pee. A lot. So I prefer cocktails.

And the possibility of wheeling into a decent cocktail bar in Oslo, is pretty good at the moment. But where’s the list of the good ones? Especially if you’re in a wheelchair. Since it’s not there – I decided to make it myself. My simple advice for cocktail lovers visiting Oslo. Just don’t overdo it!

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To be honest, it was hard to make a top 12 list of the best cocktail places in Oslo. So don’t overanalyze the order. Because some bars have really good drinks but are almost inaccessible. Some have the best music, the best ambience, the best access, the best bartenders and some have the nicest toilets. Some don’t have toilets at all (well at least not accessible). And some are just outrageously expensive, but too cool to be left out…

The ultimate list:

  1. Pigalle
    Pigalle is pretty hidden situated upstairs from the restaurant Olympen (Lompa). The restaurant serves traditional Norwegian food like kjøttkake and komle. But the bar serves very nice cocktails and longdrinks in a spacious room Art Deco style. Besides the drinks and the interior, the best thing about Pigalle is that they play soul and funk music the whole year around. And this kind of music is hard to find in Oslo. The drawbacks is a tiny elevator where you have to hold your breath to squeeze in if you’re in an electrical wheelchair. And last time we were there, the guy in the restaurant actually locked the whole elevator when the restaurant was closing. Fortunately the key was located speedily and we could rush to get the last 37-bus home, which stops just outside the door.

    Drink recommendation: Turbo Mate

  2. Human Mote
    I feel a little bit like this bar could be situated in Twin Peaks. I don’t know if it’s the interior, the bartenders or the red neon sign on the wall. Maybe just the vibe. Because despite it’s location at the before so tragic Tøyen senter – Human Mote is hipster heaven. It also has some accidental Russian tourist from the Thon Hotel around the corner. The poor Russians only drank the overpriced Norwegian tap beers. They did not know what they were missing. The bartenders at Human Mote, will not chat you to death, but they do know how to mix a good cocktail or two. Toilets are accessible. The drawback is that the bar only have high tables (benches) and barstools around the counter.

    Drink recommendation: Personfrykt Daiquiri (or the secret strawberry daiquiri)

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  3. Nodee Sky
    Nodee Sky has one of the very few accessible rooftop terraces in Oslo. And not any rooftop terrace! Situated in the middle of Barcode, Nodee Sky has a view to the Sørenga and the Oslofjord. The drinks are pricy but tasty and the snacks are also very nice. Try the reindeer springroll!  You access the bar through a sideways elevator which is more like a cable car. This is a cool gimmick, but not so efficient. And since Nodee Sky unfortunately doesn’t have accessible toilets upstairs, it’s quite an expedition to get to the toilet on the 1st floor. When you get there however – it’s the nicest disabled friendly toilet you have seen. Protip is to be at the rooftop early – because of security they don’t allow too many people at once at the rooftop bar. And I’m sure it will be a very popular place in the summer months.

    Drink recommendation: Ginger Rush & reindeer springrolls

  4. The Thief
    The Thief has several bars, but we have only tested the cocktails in the lobby bar. The rooftop bar at the Thief is also accessible, but with one of these small stairlift where they can never (almost) find the key. Because of high walls, the view is not nearby as good as in Nodee Sky. The Thief is the most expensive hotel in Oslo and their cocktails are nothing less. They have chosen to give all their drinks names from famous movies and they all come in very special glasses. And even if pigs don’t fly, some of the drinks at the Thief actually do. Toilets are accessible and the bar is pretty spacious with low tables. Drawback is the prices. And it’s a little bit pretentious and over the top. But sometimes it’s ok to be a little bit over the top, don’t you think?

    Drink recommendation: Inception

  5. Bar Boca
    Bar Boca should not be on this list, because it is not accessible with a wheelchair. They have a high step (like 25cm) to get in, which many of the bars and restaurants in the area Grünerløkka have. However – they have a nice outdoor serving with benches and the bartender will come out and take your order. And regarding the taste of the drinks – I think we might have an overall winner here. Their cocktails are small but incredibly tasty. The Green Prince was so good that André had to ask for the recipe. And when he e-mailed the bartender the next day, he got an answer within 5 minutes. Good service!

    Drink recommendation: Clover Club

  6. Bar Vulkan
    I was a bit disappointed by the food when we tried the sharing concept at Bar Vulkan a few years ago. But their cocktails never disappoint. They have only one low table, which is more for flowes pots than people, since it has no chairs. But we bring our own chairs, so we have decided this is our table. Access is good, and accessible toilets are available nearby. The ambience is a little bit anonymous maybe, but the service is nice. And the location next to the Akerselva river and the Food Court (Mathallen) is hard to beat.

    Drink recommendation: Pornstar Martini

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  7. Nedre Løkka Cocktailbar
    We had a bad start at Nedre Løkka Cocktailbar, which is a huge bar and restaurant over two floors in the lower end of Grünerløkka. The accessible entrance (or what we thought was) via a ramp, turned out to be locked. And when they finally found the key, the door opener did not work. But we got in eventually. Unfortunately all the lower tables were taken by dining guests, so we just hung out next to the bar using a flower pot as a spare table.

    The ambience in Nedre Løkka is nice and according to the owners it’s inspired by New York and the history of Grünerløkka. They have a spinning bar which is lit in a nice way and a lot of green plants decorating the old brick walls and ceiling. If you want to go to the second floor, you can forget about that. Even if they have a very nice big elevator! The bartender told me that when they installed the elevator (something they HAD to do), it killed the electrical system in the whole building. And if they have to replace that in order to make the elevator work again, I don’t really see that happening. But supposedly it’s just more of the same that’s situated on the 2nd floor. Toilet downstairs is accessible.

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  8. Südøst
    Südøst has been around for a while and is one of my favourite places to dine out in Oslo without going bankrupt. They serve Asian crossover food & great cocktails. The restaurant & bar is accessible via a ramp and so is the huge and nice outdoor serving situated next to the river walk. Even the nightclub in the basement is accessible via a lift (where they sometimes store their vacuum cleaners). And so are the accessible toilet.

    Drink Recommendation: Pink Floyd (but only in watermelon season)


  9. Internasjonalen
    Internasjonalen used to be one of my favourite bars in Oslo, but now it’s a bit worn out. I’ve been on dates there, I’ve danced, partied, talked, smiled and enjoyed good cocktails. They used to make some of the best cosmo’s in Oslo. Internasjonalen is situated in the middle of Youngstorget and there are concerts happening both inside and outside (but upstairs mostly). Music there is usually good. Only the first floor is accessible and there is a step to reach the 2nd part of the first floor. So the number of low tables are limited. And the bar counter, inspired by the old Soviet style is high high and usually crowded. So it pays off to bring a tall friend who can order for you or to have a good eye to the bartender.

    Drink Recommendation: Cosmopolitan

  10. Vesper
    We have just tried the outdoor serving, which had an abrubt end. Since Vesper is situated in an housing area (Barcode), no alchol is to be enjoyed outside after 23.00. I bet the bartenders love taking the rounds chasing all the people in (or away) when the clock strikes. Oh, actually I read on their Facebook-page now that from July 7th  all the places in Barcode can serve outdoor until midnight. Good for them! Vesper is a good place for people watching along the new Dronning Eufemia’s avenue. And the drinks are not too bad either. They have both high and low tables inside. And since the bar is pretty new, we’re pretty sure the toilets are accessible also.

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  11. Fuglen
    Rated as one of the best cocktail bars in Oslo, we were perhaps a little bit disappointed to be honest. The cocktails were good but not as awesome as we had expected from the bar who has exported itself to New York and Tokyo besides Oslo. The interior and ambience is cool, in a combined antique, furniture shop and bar/coffee bar situated close to the law faculty in Oslo in the not so cosy street Pilestredet. Accessible with max 1 wheelchair, but very little space to move around.

    Drink Recommendation: Coffee?

    Foto fra Bølgen & Moi

  12. Bar Bastard
    To be honest, we haven’t been here. Yet. But if they have brought their bartender from Bølgen & Moi Tjuvholmen, I’m sure it must be good. They always had good drinks there. Bar Bastard is accessible from the street, situated in the newer (and less touristic) area Tjuvholmen close to Aker Brygge, with it’s many tourist traps.

    Drink Recommendation from Bølgen & Moi: Watermelon in Easter Hay

Too expensive in Oslo you say? Well then, buy yourself a decent shaker and make a cocktail at home? Here’s a recipe of one my newfound favourites:

Cucumber Gin & Elderflower Martini
3 parts gin
3/4 parts elderflower liqueur (St. Germaine)
4 fresh cucumbers lices muddled
1/2 part fresh lime juice
1/2 part simple suryp

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  1. Muddle the cucumber in a shaker until completely pulverized!
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and a cup of ice!
  3. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds!
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass!
  5. Garnish with cucumber!
  6. Enjoy!



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