Behind Bars: The Old Jacob, Bonn

7 Questions to Sembo Amirpour of The Old Jacob in Bonn

Bonn is not necessarily considered to be a hot spot when it comes to bar culture. Located by the Rhine, just south of Cologne, the city represents the old Germany. However, recently things have changed. In 2016, “The Old Jacob” opened its doors. We sat down for a chat with its head bartender Sembo Amirpour.

1. Sembo, your bar is called “The Old Jacob”. Why?
The name refers to the history of the street on which our bar is located. As a theme for our bar, we wanted to pick the Victorian era and reflect this in the name, too. Researching the city’s archives, we found that the road used to be called Jacobstraße – from 1869 to 1978. “The Old Jacob”, literally translated, means “Zum alten Jacob”, which also carries our regional pub DNA: until 1972, a pub was located here.

2. Describe your bar in three words.
Classic, cozy and “darkwarm”.

3. What makes a good bar for you, when do you feel well-cared for yourself?

It should not be about the bartender – it is all about the spirit of the space and its architecture. I feel good when I realize I’ve stepped into another world.

4. You make many drinks with fresh and homemade ingredients. Does regional produce matter to you?
In the Rhineland, you have many opportunities to experiment with regional and seasonal products. In the surrounding villages, you find everything the local heart desires, from asparagus, to strawberries, apples and rhubarb. Going into the forest is worthwhile, too: You can find native botanicals like rosehip or white melissa with which you can do great things.

5. Before you joint the bar scene, you worked as a designer. From your point of view: How should bars be designed in this day and age?
It’s all about the feeling. You need to feel immediately that you’ve come to a special place. A bar can be a magical and extremely attractive space – something, whis is often misunderstood these days. In Germany, so many bars have been opened during the last couple of years, but sometimes I miss the love for detail to make it special. In most cases, the menu is more important than everything else.

6. Which drink with Thomas Henry should one definitely check out when at your bar?
During rhubarb season, definitely the “Rhubarb Rocket” with homemade rhubarb rum, fresh calamint, vanilla tonka syrup and lime, topped with Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon.

7. What kind of drink you enjoy the most after a days’ work
A Schönramer Pils or a negroni – it all depends on what happened during the shift! (laughs)

Thank you, Sembo!

The Old Jacob
Kesselgasse 1A
53111 Bonn