Barman André Meier of the hugely popular The High on the Blumenstrasse is compiling a drinks calendar: his favourite drinks for every month of the year.
As you enter The High on the Blumenstrasse, you're immediately hit by a distinctive odour: it smells wonderfully spicy, of fresh and dried herbs, slightly smoked. That's on the one hand because the Munich institution 'Wurzelsepp' occupies the premises right next door. The herbal paradise Lindig has been the city's best-know store for herbs, roots and tinctures of all kinds since 1887 – and their aroma permeates through to the bar. But the drinks that André creates here are also often stirred or garnished with herbs – sometimes smoked too.
"To be exact, a Bloody Mary is a hangover cure, served here as Mescal Mary!"
The High, which Meier, 34, runs with his girlfriend Ella Sinds, 32, is Munich's laboratory and apothecary among bars. It's where experiments take place – yet the drinks are still always honest and simple. The clientèle is young, international and delightfully unsnobbish, the music by Meier, who also works as a DJ, is hand-picked. The mood even on Tuesday is riotous but that doesn't ruffle Meier who has only one facial expression: grinning. In summary: The High is a place it's lovely to linger in. Here, Meier explains which drinks to order in which month.
"January is the traditional detox month. After excessive drinking in December, most people can't stand the sight of alcohol. So unusually for a bar, I recommend a tea. Specifically, a Greek mountain tea. It tastes really fresh, spicy, slightly citrussy, and not at all bland like other herbal teas. But for those who still want alcohol, I recommend a Hydration, which is also very healthy: Pisco, lemon, tonic and syrup – from the mountain tea again."
"February is the low-point of winter. So you need something warming. I recommend a port wine. Port wine legend has it that Charles Schumann pawned his enormous port wine collection because he needed money to expand his new bar. But it broke his heart, and when he had money again, he bought all the bottles back. Port wine is something quite special: it's actually just sweetened red wine matured over a long period. But you can taste the sunshine of Portugal and the ancient history of sea-faring folk. But if you're on a detox, I recommend an apple and elderberry juice. It's a similar colour to port wine, and elderberry is warming too."
"Spring is in the air, trees and flowers are in bud. I recommend classic, the Thyme Smash, which is very herbal (so still slightly winter) and yet fresh. In addition to gin and thyme, it's got lemon and predominantly bergamot liqueur. The whole thing is pale pink and is served in an iced glass: in tun with the delightfulness of spring. For anyone who doesn't want alcohol, the gin can be replaced with tonic water: You immediately have a very fruity, dry soft drink."
"Bright green April. It calls for a really fresh, green drink. Our choice is called 'Drive': Gin, mint, kumquats, grapefruit and peach. Virtually a fruit bowl, but fresh and good. The name of the drink, by the way, is nothing to do with driving a car, it's a reference to the wonderful film 'Drive'. But if you leave the gin out, you get a wonderful soft drink, and can still drive."
"The merry month – people on Munich's terraces drink Sprizz. We make it a bit more sophisticated and offer the Anti-Sprizz, our own aperitif: white vermouth, dry white wine, dry tonic: super elegant and refreshing, ideal for a May evening when the night is still young. We also do a sober version: we simply use alcohol-free vermouth."
"Early summer, it's getting hot, and you need to drink plenty. And that's best done with: Stefan Gabányi, one of Munich's biggest bar owners, once shared a recipe in ‘SZ' (Munich newspaper) for home-made ginger lemonade. It went through the roof so much so that several bars now serve the lemonade. So do we. Fresh, sharp, invigorating: it couldn't be better. If you want alcohol, you can add a shot of vodka to the glass."
"There's really only one drink in high summer: Rosé. We serve a wine with the indicative name of 'Jeden Tag Rosé' (Every Day Rosé) by Franz Keller (2019). It's really young, fresh, elegant, yet not flat. As the name suggests: you can, and should, drink it every day. The non-alcoholic choice is also pink: home-made raspberry lemonade. Raspberry purée, lemon, raw cane sugar, ginger beer. A bit like Skiwasser (non-alcoholic drink) that everyone in Bavaria and Austria knows, but much better."
"August is garden month. The tomatoes are ripening and the basil is growing rampantly. Basil is also in probably our best-known drink, the Basilisk (which also partly creates the aroma here in the bar …). We mix basil with a splash of olive oil, gin, lemon, peach and ice. It creates a slightly smoothie-like, very spicy, sharp green summer drink. If you don't want alcohol, simply replace the gin with 5 cl of apple juice. It's the taste of high summer, just before the harvest."
"September in Munich is totally dominated by BEER, so we also recommend hop and malt. But not the sweet beer served at the Oktoberfest that quickly goes flat, but rather Pils from Tilmans. It's another Munich beer, but different: fresh, sharp, green, dangerous. For anyone who doesn't want alcohol, I recommend Lammsbräu alcohol-free – you'd hardly know it doesn't contain alcohol."
"The Oktoberfest has gone, but the headache hasn't. To be exact, a Bloody Mary is a hangover cure, served here as Mescal Mary with tomato juice, Tabasco, Mescal, Worcester sauce and celery salt. The sharpness and the antioxidants soon cure a hangover. If that's too old school for you, drink it without Mescal, as a Virgin Mary."
"In November, you just want to sit in front of the fire. Failing that, try what might be called 'cigar drinks': heavy, dark, warm cocktails. We recommend the 'Very dark Manhattan': Bourbon, rhubarb root liqueur, Montenegro Amaro and red vermouth. A drink that's like a fine old leather armchair. For an alcohol-free alternative I'd recommend a Crodinozu, which is lovely enjoyed in small gulps."
"December: the party of the year. There's only drink for the festive season, of course: Champagne. But this most classy of all drinks doesn't always have to be the most expensive choice. My favourite is Pol Roger, the declared favourite Champagne of Winston Churchill, and which the Royal Family is also said to speak highly of. Alcohol-free sparkling wine were unpleasant for a long time: not fish, not meat, just insipid and flat. Now there's 'alcohol-free' from Fritz Müller, a Müller Thurgau sparkling that's genuinely drinkable I see it at weddings all the time: pregnant women are very merry that such a thing exists. But the sparkling original is of course better, especially on long and wild nights."
The High, Blumenstrasse 15, 80331 Munich