My cousin advised me to visit this bar because, in her opinion, it was very ‘me’. Well, I can see why Finland’s first steampunk-themed bar would attract the likes of myself – slightly chaotic deco, bar shaped like a zeppelin, smoke, cocktails, Gin and even more Gin. From the outside, the venue looks dull and doesn’t give you any clues on the design, yet the customers just keep piling in. Usually you can expect very plain interiors from the Finns – think Ikea-style furniture or 70s retro with neutral colours, so perhaps it is the well-planned chaos at Steam Hellsinki that’s attracting more and more customers, or maybe it is the desire for something different since this bar opened its doors in March 2015. I spent a Sunday night there sampling the drinks menu and it was getting fairly busy. I can only imagine the parties on Friday and Saturday nights
The colours used are a nice combination of gold, copper and red. You can find motorbikes hanging from the ceiling as well as tennis rackets, old radios, roses and disco balls, but the Hendrick’s Gin branding reminds you of the main purpose of the bar – GIN. They have 92 Gins on the menus from around the globe, including two Finnish brands, Helsinki Dry Gin and Napue. You can spend the evening sipping Gin whilst the D plays a good mix of electro-swing, and you might even end up on the dance floor to accompany the few souls brave enough (or intoxicated enough) to get down on it.
How they drink it
The Gin selection is wide and varied, and with so many ways to have a G&T, you could easily get overwhelmed by the choice. However, just chat to the staff as they were friendly and very knowledgeable about each Gin as well as the various garnishes. One of my favourites was Napue from the Kyrö Distillery, the IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) Gin & Tonic 2015 winner. It’s made using rye grain and served with cranberries and rosemary. At Steam Hellsinki you get a chance to drink a G&T with alternative garnishes such as lingonberries, redcurrants, basil, black pepper, blueberries, and the combinations are worth exploring. Nice change from the usual cucumber or lime.
The prices vary from €7 up to an astonishing €23(!) and the drinks menu didn’t mention the extra €3.50 they add for the tonic. Be careful to take the tonic bottle off the barman – you typically only use half, so can use one bottle for two drinks and save a few euros.
Should you not like G&T, you can choose from many cocktails on or off the menu. As I am always on the lookout for the best Pisco Sour (you’d surprised how many places get it wrong), I could not resist trying one at the Steam Hellsinki. It was hands down one of the best I’ve had for a while!
The bottom line
Really interesting design, good atmosphere and knowledgeable, friendly bar staff. Good to see my fellow Finns get out of their comfort zone and explore some new design ideas. (I heard the company behind Steam Hellsinki also has another interesting venue with a Hawaiian/Sailor theme so perhaps the Finnish bar scene is finally jazzing it up a little). Slightly overpriced, but I guess it is the whole experience you pay for…… Unfortunately, it wasn’t until later on that I found out the bar is also known for its cucumber sandwiches… bummer. And what is it with all these Gin bars limiting their selection to 90-odd Gins!!!!? It surely isn’t hard to find a few more to make it up to the round 100. #Ginrage
Address: Olavinkatu 1, 00100, Helsinki