Anyone who has lived in the same city for more than a few years knows it: a new bar opens, everyone runs there and it quickly becomes the new “insider tip”. But the hype often disappears just as quickly and with it the bar. The Zephyr, on the other hand, has been providing cocktail lovers with first-class drinks for ten years now. Responsible for this is Lukas Motejzik, who was there from the beginning and, even in times of a pandemic, developed a concept that once again confirms: The Zephyr is an institution in Munich's Gärtnerplatzviertel, not a short-lived idea.
The zephyr is not a bar that advertises the quality of its drinks with the greatest possible attention. A discreet sign with the inscription “Bar” and two red awnings are enough Luke Motejzik and his business partner Alex Schmaltz, lovingly prepared cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere are more important than show and appearances. The likeable mixologist doesn't actually have to hide, after all, he was awarded the Mixology Award as Mixologist of the Year 2017, among other things. But it is precisely this restraint, combined with outstanding drinks, that immediately gives you the pleasant feeling of being welcome at Zephyr - regardless of whether you are a hip student, weekend tourist or manager. However, in the current Corona summer, the inside of the bar remains closed. Instead, a kiosk out front supplies the city with colorful, semi-frozen cocktails to take away. Welcome to the best “slusheria” in Munich – or perhaps the entire world.
THE DUKE Distillery : Dear Lukas, we are not sitting with a cocktail in your bar but with a slushy outside in the sun. What has changed due to Corona?
Lukas Motejzik : We were of course completely closed for the first few weeks of the lockdown and put our Zephyr into hibernation. Since the regulations were relaxed, we are now offering slushy drinks to take away from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. when the weather is good.
...that taste delicious! How did that happen? What has changed for you?
Alex and I wanted to offer our guests the best under the given conditions and to stand out from the other takeaway bar concepts in order to remain competitive. Our Zephyr is known for good drinks and unusual decorations and we wanted to stay that way - that's how the idea of our “Slusheria” came about.
The slushies are not only the perfect summer drink and look fancy, but also have a big advantage: since the production process starts before the shift begins and we no longer have to mix the drinks à la minute, we can work with a minimum of personnel, calculate perfectly and Make lots of drinks in a short amount of time. This means that guests don't have to wait long.
There are currently four machines running with a total of seven different slushy variations, which vary daily. Our challenge is to modify classic drink recipes or develop new ones so that they also taste good as a frozen version, look good in color and always surprise our guests with the variations.
Your concept is undoubtedly working. How is cohesion in the bar scene in general?
We had consistently positive experiences. People stick together, help each other, exchange ideas and visit each other. We're all in the same boat, which brings us together.
We are glad to hear that. Please tell us about your career. What brought you into gastronomy and how did the Zephyr come about?
When I was still at school, when I was 18, I did a kind of internship in the drinking hall (editor's note: predecessor of the Zephyr. Oliver von Carnap, Bill Fehn & Holger Groll used the shakers here at the time). After my community service, I wanted to put this passion on a “sensible” footing and decided to train as a hotel manager. However, I quickly realized that it wasn't what I wanted to do because I wanted to be a bartender and the training wasn't specific enough for me. I studied business administration for a short time and worked at the bar at Zephyr “on the side” and when my current business partner Alex Schmaltz offered me a partnership, my fate was virtually sealed. (laughs)
This was quickly followed by partnerships with various other businesses in which I developed and implemented the catering concept. (Editor's note: 2014 Bar Herzog, 2015 Lausa Bar, 2018 Ory Bar) The Mixology Award for Mixologist of the Year 2017 followed in 2016. At the beginning of 2020 I got rid of everything except the Zephyr in order to concentrate more on mixing and take a breather .
What was your dream career as a child?
(Thinks and laughs) I actually always wanted to mix.
You've been doing this for over a decade now. What do you enjoy most about your gastronomic work?
Mixing drinks is still one of my absolute passions. I like to be creative and combine different ingredients to make the perfect drink. I probably would have been a pretty good cook too. What I like about bartending, however, is that you have your workplace right in the middle of the action. You get direct feedback on your drinks, feel the atmosphere, work in a team and can actively shape the evening and the mood.
What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?
The biggest success for me is actually that our Zephyr has been around for ten years now. We've really managed to keep a store running for so long. In addition, our team members are with us for an incredibly long time in the catering industry. One employee has been there for nine years, the newest one for two years. The atmosphere in the team is very familiar and so is the way we deal with our guests. We are not a fad, but have really built something that has grown with us and our guests. We are also “normally” open seven days a week.
And why is THE DUKE in your back bar?
I started working at the bar at relatively the same time as THE DUKE Gin was launched (Editor's note: 2008). Since the gin selection was still quite clear at the time and consisted of 4-5 foreign gin brands, we bartenders were quite proud to be the first German gin to offer a gin from Munich. And the personal contact with the people behind the brand has not been broken to this day, as you can see from us right now. (laughs)
What is your favorite drink?
A good Americano (Campari, vermouth, soda) is always possible and at any time of day.
You wanted more time to catch your breath – what does a day off look like for you?
For me, the greatest luxury at the moment is waking up on my day off and not having to do anything . I don't plan anything on my day off and just let myself go according to my mood and mood: do sports, meet friends, have a coffee in a café and don't have any time pressure. I always like to stop by the Zephyr because then I finally have time to chat in detail with our guests. I'm more of a sociable guy who likes to be around people.
If you had one wish for the bar scene, what would it be?
Stay as you are! I am very happy about our solidarity, the exchange and the collegial cooperation. The atmosphere is familiar and friendly. I really appreciate it.
Please talk a little more about what's going on. What is your craziest gastro story?
There are so many crazy stories that you experience, many of which are actually not allowed to be told out loud. The most recent would be that yesterday there was a guest who wanted to see our sushi menu. We were pretty perplexed and asked him how he knew we had sushi and he pointed to our slushy sign and said, “It’s right there!”
Finally, do you have a request for your guests? Now you can get rid of them.
(Thinks for a long time) I actually have no wish at all... there is nothing that bothers me or even annoys me when I interact with our guests. We are lucky that our guests come to us with such a positive atmosphere and that we have many great regular guests and a great, relaxed working atmosphere in our bar team. This atmosphere is usually directly transmitted to new guests who come to our bar.
If you're honest, the guest doesn't need to know what would make our service easier. That might be great, but that's just not his job! His job is to come to us, have fun and pay for his drinks at the end and our job is to give him a nice evening and serve good drinks.
Nice words at the end. Thank you for the interview and all the best!
Admittedly, not every household has a slushy machine. Nevertheless, we would like to give you the recipes for the two signature (slushy) drinks that Lukas made with ours THE DUKE Gin and LION's Vodka for his guests mixes not withheld. Nevertheless, we can only warmly recommend a visit to Lukas in his Zephyr Slusheria, because nowhere else do the drinks taste as good as those made by their inventors.
Hush Money – Slushy
And if you're now thinking: That's all well and good, but does that have to be the case, all this takeaway in a plastic cup - we can confidently agree with a “no”. That's why Zephyr doesn't use plastic cups for the slushies, but rather biodegradable cups made from plant-based ingredients. Cheers – see you at the lifeguard!