Food & Drink

Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston: How London's Cocktail Power Couple Changed the Scene in 2016

Bobby and Mia
Addie Chinn

This husband-and-wife team have had a wild ride these last few years. After working together at iconic Soho speakeasy Milk & Honey, they moved to New York to open the acclaimed Dead Rabbit, only returning back to London to open their own place in the winter of 2014. Unfortunately, the site was short-lived, and they have spent 2016 throwing pop-ups; Bobby has also worked as bar manager of the multi-award winning Callooh Callay, which went on to win Best High Volume International Cocktail Bar at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. They have just announced that they have partnered up with the team behind Nightjar, and will be opening a space called Swift in Soho by the end of the year.

What have you been focusing on this year?
Mia Johansson:
Our focus this year was to build a stable platform for the future, to create a bar that will stand the test of time and make a happy, successful venture for both us and our staff.

What was your proudest moment?
Bobby Hiddleston:
Our proudest moment was when the news [of Swift] hit social media, and we felt so much incredible support from the world. We have gone through a lot of hardships in the past two years, and this has taken them all away, that this was what we were supposed to do.

Why do you think the London cocktail scene is so strong currently?
Johansson:
The London cocktail scene has been made of strong friendships for a very long time; we have great mentorship all across the UK, which lets people learn and encourages them to open their own bars. With this friendship, you always feel welcomed into the group, and supported by the industry. We all aim to help each other so much more than compete with each other. We are stronger together, and that is really shown in London.

Where do you think drinks are headed in London in terms of trends, tastes, and designs?
Hiddleston:
I think simple and classic is coming back. We have seen the scene go to experimental ingredients you never thought would fit in a cocktail, and people’s palates have been challenged in a great way. But we hope to see the industry refocus on creating great classics again and really step up the quality of base training and service.

Is there anything you can share about your future plans?
Johansson:
We are going to build a great training program for our staff that to a certain extent will be available to anybody who wants to join, industry or just interested.

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Haley Forest is a food & drinks writer who would happily sit by the service well and watch Bartenders do their thing all night long. Follow her (mis)adventures at @hcforest.