A Short Talk with the Creators of The Finnish Long Drink

Maybe it has to do with the long, frigid Nordic winters and endless summer days. Maybe it has to do with Finnish ingenuity. When the Whalebone Magazine R&D department went out a-researching, we found the best canned cocktail in the world came from Finland. Let the Swedes have clever furniture, but Finland leads the world in this cocktail category. The founders of The Finnish Long Drink tell us why.

The canned cocktail The Long Drink takes its name from the Finnish long drink, or lonkero, which is mixed drink traditionally made from gin and grapefruit juice. It’s basically everywhere in Finland. Fountains flow with it.

Three Finns and an American Walk into a bar…

Finns Ere Partanen, Mikael Taipale, and Sakari Manninen met and befriended American Evan Burns at a party in New York in 2014, and somehow coaxed him to Finland to enjoy pastimes such as eating reindeer stew, swimming in the frozen Baltic sea, and drinking prodigious amounts of long drink in saunas to recover from the aforementioned.

In this environment, the plan for The Long Drink world domination was hatched. This spring, the fruits of their labor, hit our shores. Let’s chat with them, shall we?

Not Finland.

Gin is amazing, but if we can drink gin with the pop of a top, that’s a whole other level. How did this cocktail make its way into a can? The Olympics are involved, right?

It all started with a government initiative of making sure people don’t run out of drinks in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, because who wants to watch men in short shorts running marathon sober? They came up with the idea of long drink and after the games, the people demanded to keep it around. Fast forward 65 years and Finland has won the ice hockey world championship twice, Hollywood learned that the President of Finland is Conan O’Brien’s doppelgänger, Vogue wrote an article about Finnish way of drinking at home alone in your underwear with no interest in going out, long drinks have become the best-selling alcohol category in Finland, and three Finns and an American decided to bring the national drink of Finland to the USA.

We know what summer in Montauk looks like but what does the ideal summer day look like in Finland?

In Finland, we get ideal summer days couple times a year. The rest is pretty much winter. The perfect summer day is spent in your summer cottage with friends or family. In Finland, many families have their own.

The day starts early with a refreshing morning swim in the lake. During the morning you go fishing to catch a few perches and pikes for lunch. Potatoes and veggies you get from your own yard.

After lunch, you play a round of a couple of traditional Finnish summer games. Mölkky, like bowling but you play it on grass and use chops of wood instead of the ball and the pins. Another traditional game is tikanheitto, basically darts with Finnish rules. These activities are usually accompanied by some long drinks.

By this time you notice it’s already evening—this can be very hard to tell because the sun never sets in Finland during the summer.

Sauna heats up in about an hour, which gives you and your friends good time to have a couple more long drinks. Sauna feels amazing. After cooking yourself for a couple of hours in the sauna, it’s time for barbecue. Some in our team actually cook sausages on the rocks (of the sauna stove). During sauna, you take jäähy several times, which means you go swimming and let your body chill. All this usually takes at least four hours combined. By this time you notice it’s already evening — this can be very hard to tell because the sun never sets in Finland during the summer. Then it’s nice to sit down for a few hours while listening the birds sing and the fish jumping, and naturally, have a couple long drinks. At 2 am the sun is still up and you check yourself to bed. That’s it. A great summer day in Finland.

Let’s go out on a limb here and say that Helsinki should be everyone’s favorite city to pronounce—henceforth. Besides that, Whalebone could probably stand to learn a little more about the capital, looks beautiful. We have only 12 hours in the city—what should we do?

There are a lot of public Helsinki-City-bikes that offer a nice way to lose the jet-lag you probably got having only arrived a moment ago. Start from Kauppatori, marketplace by the sea where you can enjoy a nice Finnish pastry. Then you can go check the Helsinki Cathedral as it is a cultural landmark in the capital of Finland and a beautiful place to take photos. Of course, you should also take an hour and visit a true urban sauna, for public saunas try the districts of Kotiharju, Merihaka, Hermanni, or the new Löyly complex at the southern end of Helsinki peninsula. While pedaling around, remember to take many photos – you only have 12 hours to get the photo you can tagline: “One more page for my travel book: Helsinki was amazing.” The city is full of very nice terrace bars that are crowded on nice summer days. You can also drink your own alcoholic beverages in the public, so all the parks in Helsinki are full of people having alcohol filled pikniks — that’s a must. In the evening you can enjoy a nice dinner under the sun on a terrace restaurant.

Definitely not Finland.

We had you all over to our Three-Year Anniversary Shindig—you guys are pretty good dancers by the way— Long Drink was a huge hit that night, any particularly outstanding moments from the evening in regards to LD?

The moment “Sandstorm” by Darude came on we knew that the Long Drink had landed in the USA. It was a flashback to our teens for us, listening to a Finnish DJ while slamming long drink in the woods behind our parents’ house.

The particular moments that we cherished though were the moments we spent together enjoying our success with our friends and fans. Enjoying Long Drink after all is about creating good vibes and amazing memories.

Maybe it was the flashing lights in the photo booth or seemingly endless amounts of chilled Long Drink being served but the night was one to remember. Too bad you only turn older once a year!

We would bring cases of Long Drink, of course, plus some rye bread and dried reindeer meat.

It’s pronounced “lonkero,” right? On average how long does it take you to teach the pronunciation? Do you get points for effort?

Lonkero is actually a nickname for Long Drink in Finland. Actually “lonkero” directly translated means “tentacle”! We are still trying to teach our employees how to properly pronounce our Finnish names so teaching someone how to pronounce lonkero is quite easy. In Finland, we have a saying that “a loved child has many names.” That’s why we are happy to hear all the different versions of our child’s name.

Actually Finland.

You’re taking a company vacation, where are you going and what are you bringing?

Considering that partners of our company are Finnish, we would set off on a grand road trip of the USA so we can see the rest of the country we have not visited. Our marketing director, who once drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile around the country, would be our tour guide of course! From NYC > Philadelphia > Chicago> Des Moines > Cheyenne > Denver > Las Vegas > San Diego—it would be a perfect bonding trip for us all. We would bring cases of Long Drink, of course, plus some rye bread and dried reindeer meat. The car would have a mobile sauna behind it, so we can take sauna breaks in each state we go through.

We know LD is a ready-to-go cocktail in a can, but are there any other concoctions with LD you’ve heard of or tried that you’d recommend?

Long Drink is obviously delicious by itself but we have heard of different ways people choose to imbibe our unique beverage. Some people like to add extra gin, some people like to add a slice of lemon and have it on the rocks. We at the Long Drink Co prefer it straight out a chilled can though, the old-fashioned way. Whether it’s at the beach, at a rooftop bar, or at home in your underwear it’s perfect for every occasion.