Each of us has one. One thing he loves most, that he swears by and that he longs for all year long - his favorite Oktoberfest tent. Nowhere does the band play hotter Wiesn hits, nowhere do you eat and drink better, the waitresses are the friendliest here and the other Oktoberfest guests... like a second family! However, it is the Oktoberfest hosts who are primarily responsible for ensuring that we have the most wonderful time of the year for 16 days. But what does a Wieswirt actually do the rest of the year, i.e. the remaining 349 days of the year, when there is no Oktoberfest? And above all, what is he doing in this special year 2020 when the Oktoberfest was canceled for the first time in 71 years?
In this special bartender portrait we have Otto Lindinger, Wiesnwirt of Bodo's Cafézelt & Cocktailbar and spokesman for the since 2019 small Oktoberfest tents Questions and answers for an interview of a slightly different kind. Very modestly and sympathetically, he talks about his everyday life as a Oktoberfest host and gives us one or two exclusive insights behind the scenes of the largest folk festival in the world, the Oktoberfest.
Bodo's café tent is one of the smaller Oktoberfest tents. One that the typical Oktoberfest tourist doesn't necessarily know. There are no beer benches here, but rather small, round coffee house tables and no beer mugs are carried through the tent, only coffee mugs and good drinks. Every evening around 5 p.m. the band starts turning up the music and suddenly you're in the middle of a big party. This is where the locals who like things to be a little grittier meet and it is precisely this mix that gives the tent its charm.
THE DUKE Distillery : Dear Otto, we would actually be sitting in your tent on the Theresienwiese and having this conversation. Instead, we'll meet in yours hotel in Aschheim, 100 meters from our distillery and your Oktoberfest tent will remain in storage this year. Please tell us how you found out about the bad news that Oktoberfest 2020 would be canceled.
Otto Lindinger : Of course it was hinted at and there had been speculation for some time, but we also found out about the final cancellation at the press conference on April 21, 2020. (Editor's note: In a joint press conference, Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) stated the largest folk festival in the world has been cancelled.) A shock for us, but absolutely and 100% understandable. It was clear that Munich would not welcome six million people this year. And holding it would have been fatal for the “Oktoberfest” brand. If you imagine a large beer tent in which suddenly only 3,000 people sit instead of 8,000 in order to comply with the hygiene requirements, it naturally seems a little strange relatively quickly; And to be honest, it has very little to do with the carefree celebration that Oktoberfest is known for. For the sake of accuracy, it must also be said that the Oktoberfest has not yet been confirmed for 2020. Whether the Oktoberfest takes place or not is decided every year by the city council.
Has it ever happened that an Oktoberfest was canceled?
This is the first cancellation of Oktoberfest since 1949. In 210 years of Oktoberfest history, this year's Wiesn cancellation is the 25th cancellation since 1810. The reason for the cancellations was usually wars or epidemics.
One Oktoberfest host has already drawn his conclusions - after 83 years and four generations of Oktoberfest hosts, the Heide family says “Hello” to the Oktoberfest. She will no longer apply to run Bräurosl in 2021. How is Bodo's Cafézelt doing in the current situation?
This decision of course reflects the general uncertainty and the associated planning uncertainty of the landlords. We all bear a great deal of economic risk and often make large financial advances.
The Hacker-Pschorr Brewery will now look for a new landlord to run the Bräurosl in the future and propose him to the city. The process is different here: the small tents apply to the city every year, while the large tents are in the hands of the breweries and the breweries in turn “appoint” a landlord to run their tent. It happens every now and then that a host gives up his tent, or has to give up. These are normal processes. (Editor's note: the last change of host was in 2014 due to a major tax scandal) That's why the Bräurosl will continue to exist as an Oktoberfest tent, albeit with a new tent. The foundations for this were laid at the beginning of the year on Theresienwiese.
Bodo's café tent will definitely be back in 2021. As in previous years, we will submit our application to the city of Munich by December 31, 2020. Our great luck - something you often don't see - is that we hosts do the Oktoberfest “on the side”. Each of the Oktoberfest innkeepers has operations running all year round. The cancellation of the Oktoberfest isn't a financial fiasco for me, but it's taking a toll on me emotionally. I thought I'd put it away more casually, but the closer the tapping date got, the more anxious I became. (laughs)
Tell us what brought you into the restaurant industry?
I was literally born into the catering and hotel industry. Our hotel has been family-owned for 140 years, but there has never been any pressure from my family for me to continue running the business.
After graduating from high school and serving in the Bundeswehr, I studied at hotel management school in Switzerland and completed a variety of internships. I have been back in Munich since 2003 and therefore back in the family business. I am now running the business in the fifth generation and am constantly expanding, converting and further developing the hotel.
Did you want to be a restaurateur as a child?
Somehow it was always clear to me personally that I wanted to continue running the business. I would have enjoyed architecture too and I'm now actually living out my passion by regularly remodeling and renewing the hotel. (Editor's note: Otto is currently expanding from two to four conference rooms and completely renovating 26 of its 77 hotel rooms)
Please tell us: how do you actually become an Oktoberfest host?
I came to the tent through my friendship with Bodo Müller. We were both carnival princes at the Narrhalla Munich eV – he in 1985, I in 2006 – and that’s how we met. One evening we were sitting together over a few beers and he asked me if I could imagine supporting him at the Oktoberfest. I started as manager in 2009 and then took over his life's work in 2014 and continue to run it to this day. I've gradually grown into the task and I really enjoy it.
Normally the route is of course different, you start with a small stand and as soon as something larger becomes available, you expand your business. I am incredibly grateful to Bodo for handing over his life's work to me - Bodo's Cafézelt has been around for 32 years this year, which is a long, traditional history that we can look back on.
What do you enjoy most about your work at the Oktoberfest?
We are a small part of what makes up the entire Oktoberfest work of art, which is known all over the world. And the symbiosis of my guest clientele, on the one hand the young people at the cocktail bar and the “young at heart” regulars who have been visiting our tent for more than 30 years. This mixture gives me so much joy.
What do you do the remaining 349 days of the year when there is no Oktoberfest?
Well, what no one sees: we Oktoberfest hosts are full-time restaurateurs and run our businesses during the year. In my case that means I manage the hotel and also organize events and catering.
(Editor's note: “By the way,” Otto is also a board member of Aschheimer Schäffler who also danced at our winter festival in the courtyard of THE DUKE distillery in 2019.)
Why is our THE DUKE Gin in your cocktail bar?
As a Bavarian you're a bit of a patriot - I think you can say that (laughs) and that's why I'm naturally happy about local products and support them. Since we always like to work with regional organic products at the Oktoberfest, we have been serving THE DUKE Gin exclusively for several years and of course I also have your LION's Vodka at the bar.
In 2016 you moved your distillery to Aschheim, in the immediate vicinity. And now we are not only business partners but also neighbors.
What is your personal favorite drink?
I actually don't - I'm more situational and make decisions quite spontaneously. If it's one, it's that one Vodka soda with lots of lime to balance the water balance. (laughs)
You're very busy at work - when you do have a day off, what does it look like for you?
Definitely influenced by sport. Water sports in summer and touring skiing in winter. And of course, have a nice meal and visit colleagues in the restaurant industry.
If you had one wish for the Oktoberfest hosts, the mayor/city council or the KVR, what would it be?
The Oktoberfest makes up a large part of our Munich or Bavarian attitude to life and the whole world is our guest at the time to experience it more or less intensively. My only wish is that it stays that way, that all trades work together as best as possible in order to continue to have a peaceful Oktoberfest together.
Please talk a little more about what's going on. What is your craziest Oktoberfest story?
Of course, there are some nice stories that happen behind the scenes, far away from all the hustle and bustle. What most Oktoberfest visitors don't know: Many tents and showmen have small areas behind their tents where people can sit together after work and exchange ideas. Strange things often come up that happen during the Oktoberfest - for us innkeepers and showmen it's almost everyday life.
At the “Höllenblitz” roller coaster, for example, there is also a small hut that looks like a decorative hut from the outside, but is converted into a cozy farmhouse parlor with a corner bench and minibar. We sometimes meet here for a chat and a beer. Last year there was an evening when we sat together again after the Oktoberfest was over and at some point one of us came up with the idea of turning on the “Höllenblitz” again and doing another lap. It has to be said that it rained heavily that night, but we still had a blast doing our “safety check”.
Finally, do you have a request for your Oktoberfest guests?
As much as I usually complain about it and stop answering the phone after 5 p.m. because another spy is standing in front of my door with 320 of his “best spezl” and wants me to get him into the extremely overcrowded tent, I'm going to do it this way miss the year too. (laughs) (Editor's note: In Bavaria, a “Spezi” or “Spezl” is a good acquaintance, “almost like a friend”)
Thank you for the exciting conversation!
This time, for once, we didn't prepare any fancy, crazy drinks, but instead made what Bodo's Cafézelt is known for: its doughnuts! Of course in typical THE DUKE style with alcoholic filling, for baking at home. So that all those who miss the Oktoberfest this year as much as we do can bring a tiny bit of the Oktoberfest feeling home with Bodo's doughnuts.
Gin and tonic jam
Recipe for approx. 4 glasses (150 ml each)
100ml THE DUKE Munich Dry Gin
400 ml tonic water
Freshly squeezed organic lime juice
500 g preserving sugar 1:1
Mix tonic water, lime juice and preserving sugar in a large pot and bring to the boil while stirring. Cut the organic lime peel into thin strips and add. Let it boil for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Finally add the gin and remove from the heat. Then pour the liquid into the hot jars, close tightly and overturn.
Allow to cool and use either as a spread, donut filling or cake filling.
Moscow Mule pudding
Recipe for approx. 4 bowls
100ml LION's Vodka
500 ml milk
40 g cornstarch
30 ml freshly squeezed organic lime juice
20 ml organic ginger juice
Using a whisk, mix approx. 100 ml of milk with the cornstarch so that no lumps form. Add the remaining milk and bring to the boil while stirring. Meanwhile, stir in the sugar, lime juice and ginger juice. Finally add the vodka, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.
Allow to cool and either enjoy on its own or use as a donut or cake filling.
For everyone who misses the Oktoberfest, including Bodo's café tent and cocktail bar, as much as we do, we suggest a visit to the Lindinger family in the Hotel and Gasthof zur Post as an alternative Oktoberfest program: fine Bavarian food, cold beer or gin & tonic, a cozy atmosphere , 140 years of family tradition and all just a stone's throw from our distillery. Otto is looking forward to your visit and we are all already looking forward to the Oktoberfest 2021!