If you are taking bar legend Charles Schumann out for drinks in town, pick the quiet joints. Watering holes with deejays annoy him.
Did you want to be a bartender when were young?
No, I was studying philosophy and politics at a university in Munich, but I was working in Harry’s Bar to earn some money for myself. So it was by accident. I made many new friends and forged so many good relationships as a bartender that I was encouraged to open my own bar, Schumann’s American Bar, in 1982.
How has Schumann’s American Bar changed since then?
In the past, we served a little food, but today we offer more, such as steaks and roast beef. These days, it’s quite impossible for a bar to be successful if it serves drinks alone. A lot of politicians also come to my place, but we don’t discuss politics at the bar, that is the rule.
What are a few interesting bars we should check out in Munich?
In the past, the best bars were often located in top Munich hotels, but these days, you have good, stand-alone watering holes. Bar Gabányi is an elegant joint that is famous for its whiskies, and Bar Reichenbach is a modern or mixology bar. The latter offers drinks like Nightmare on Elm Street, a blend of spiced gin, lime, maraschino, vanilla liqueur and cinnamon, and also barrel-aged cocktails. The modern, mixology bar trend in Munich is maybe fitting for our current times, but personally, I think their methods are a bit exaggerated. I still prefer the traditional cocktails.
Is there anything that you don’t like to experience in a bar?
Yes, loud music. You can’t chat or listen to your friends in such an environment. In Germany, there are many bars with deejays spinning in them, and I hate those places; they are not my type. I do sometimes have a piano player in my bar, but that’s about it. Bars should also have a, street-level location, so there is easy access. In Tokyo, there are many good, tiny bars hidden in the upper floors of buildings, because those places can’t afford the expensive rents on the ground floors. I think that’s a pity.
Excerpt from the April 2013 issue of epicure