The Store Check Series
Hats, Boots & Bourbon
Step inside “Hats, Boots & Bourbon” on Istedgade 24 in Copenhagen - a cosy multi-theme store in the heart of Copenhagen. Here, we meet Erik who opened the store back in October 2017 for a talk about - well you guessed it… Hats, Boots & Bourbon.
Erik, what is your background?
Well, I have actually never worked in a store before. I have been in the bar and restaurant business for more than 10 years but I always dreamed of opening a store, where I could combine the best from different worlds. I have always worn some kind of headgear, whether it being a cap in my younger days or a sixpence when I got older. It has always been part of who I am and while studying service management in Sweden, I somehow streamlined my thoughts to a concept of combining my interest in hats and accessories with my fascination of the 1930s.
Where does your fascination of the 1930s come from?
Some of my grandparents emigrated to the States and we have a lot of pictures of them from that time. I love the dandy outfits they wore back then - the hats, the cigars, the way they were always overdressed in some way. The picture wall in the store is actually a tribute to the 1930s. It is built around old family photos and I then added pictures from the same time period and suddenly, I had a full wall with references to the 1930s.
How did you end up opening a bar in Copenhagen?
Well, in Sweden you have to have a kitchen associated with your bar to get a liquor license. I guess they don’t want people drinking without eating. I didn’t want to open a restaurant and from my experience in the industry, I knew how much headache you could get in the process of having a kitchen approved. I therefore looked at Copenhagen for an easier entry to the market.
Does the concept work now that you can see it in action?
Very well! The whole idea is to get people to relax. Personally, I always get stressed when entering a shop. I get a feeling of having to make a decision or leave - that are the two options. Here, you can relax. You can come here to just get a cup of coffee and when the customers feel like shopping, you already have a relation to them...
...Hats are something new to most people. It’s not like in the 1930s, where everybody wore a hat. A little alcohol gives you that extra confidence to try on a hat and when your mate says “hell yeah”, you are a step closer. The bar and the music add to a good vibe of people lowering their barricades. It also works well for groups. Shopping is not for everyone and here, you can go out with some buddies and one can shop for jeans while the others have a beer in the bar.
First of all, I thought that bourbon had a nice sound to it in addition to hats and boots. As I am very fond of the 1930s, bourbon being an American invention, fit well into the theme and there is a lot of drinks from those days that praise the menu.
What makes bourbon special?
First of all, all bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbons. Confused? Ha-ha. There is a special gospel that all bourbon must apply to in order to be recognized as bourbon - a bourbon ABC.
A – America. Bourbon can only be made in America.
B – Bourbon must be made with new charred oak barrels.
C – Corn must make up at least 51 pct. of the grains used.
D – It must be distilled to a maximum of 80% abv.
E – It must enter the barrel at no more than 62.5% abv.
F – It must be filled (bottled) at no less than 40% abv.
G – It must be genuine; no artificial colours may be added.
The process of burning oak barrels actually came by coincidence. Back in the day, bourbon was transported in oak barrels riding the steam of the Mississippi River. Some of these barrels had been used to transport fish and no scrubbing and cleaning was enough to remove the fish odour that would affect the taste of the bourbon. The barrels were therefore burned on the inside to remove the smell. Later, they found out that the burned oak contributed to a rounded taste of caramel and vanilla, which gives bourbon its unique taste and colour. After distilling the product, it is clean as grappa or vodka and the brown colour comes from the burned oak. The darker the color, the older the bourbon.
Do you have any new additions to the concept?
We have tried with live music, which also works really well. We have had people dancing in here to the live band. But it’s a balance. You want the house to be full but we don’t want so many people that it’s impossible to shop. At the moment with the partial lockdown and limitations to how many people we can be in the store, we have had to put that on hold...
...I have just invested in a DJ soundboard and now I am trying to learn how to play and sample vinyl, so that will be the next thing. We will be playing old records of disco, Motown and 90s hip-hop. It sounds a bit mixed but most 90s hip-hop is actually sampled from Motown, so in that way it fits well with the overall feel and atmosphere.
On the pictures Erik is wearing our:
- Repi Jeans
- Calo Knit Sweat
- Miguel Brilliante Shirt
If you are ever in Copenhagen and in need for a new hat, a pair of jeans or just want to browse for accessories - visit the store:
Hats, Boots & Bourbon