Scandinavian food is hotter than a Finnish sauna right now, so praise Odin that the same culinary Vikings who made gravlax sexy are out to conquer the bar scene as well. On the front line is new Greenpoint drinkery Tørst—Danish for “thirst”—helmed by legendary “gypsy brewer” Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and chef Daniel Burns, formerly of the planet’s hottest restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen. These warriors are laying waste to tired ideas of what a great taproom should be, with a minimalist space that looks and smells like a modernist log cabin, and rare brews from thoughout Europe and North America.
DRINK THIS: Something you’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce. This will not be difficult to find: The ever-changing, 21-tap draft menu can move faster than a Swedish vallhund (some beers last just a few kegs then disappear forever), but previous mouthfuls have included cognac-barrel-aged imperial stout Hel & Verdoemenis 666 from Netherlands cult favorite De Molen, and Jolly Pumpkin’s highly hyped Oro De Calabaza golden ale. A more permanent fixture on the menu is Jarnit-Bjergsø’s own Evil Twin Brewing, which bookends the taps with the citrusy, low-alcohol IPA Bikini Beer (eight ounces $6) on the lighter end to an exclusive port-barrel-aged version of its popular Even More Jesus imperial stout (eight ounces $8), rich with plum and molasses flavors and clocking in at a mighty 12 percent ABV. Burns has plans for a tasting-menu-only restaurant in the back of the bar, but for now, you can (and should) snack on slices of his warm, grainy Danish rye bread with cheese ($14).
GOOD FOR: Beer adventurers willing to throw down some serious crowns. Tørst has more in common with a high-end wine bar than with your local watering hole—no novelty tap handles, neon signs or Knicks games here. Instead, well-heeled locals and pilgrimaging brew buffs quietly sip from designer wineglasses at the sleek white marble counter. Most of the 100-plus bottles fall into the $15–$30 range, and can climb upwards of $100 for highly prized vintages like a 2005 Fou’ Foune from Belgium’s Cantillon or De Dolle’s 2003 Dulle Teve Reserva. Approachable bartenders help ease the sticker shock, offering the kind of brainy explanations you’d expect from a good sommelier.
THE CLINCHER: If the obscure beers aren’t eggheaded enough for you, check out the flashy sci-fi tech powering the bar’s draft taps. The glowing red tubes and dials of the custom-built “flux capacitor” system allow these nerdy Nordics to dial each tap to the exact temperature and gas blend for each beer. That means every single brew—from barley wine to smoked stout—is served at its scientific best.—Ruth Brown