"It´s all about Gin" - Our History
Ampulle "The dry Gin & Beef Club" Est. 2015
If you want to tell Ampulle and the dry Gin and Beef Club’s story, there’s on person we have to mention! Erika Wilhelmer, founder and mother of current owner Michael Wilhelmer, opened a wine tavern in the west of Stuttgart 60 years ago. The undertaking wasn’t easy, as the Buschlestrasse wasn’t exactly a prime location! Nevertheless, the imaginative businesswoman found the means and ways of making her bar known to many people! For example, she opened the bar at 1pm for the students of the local business school. The tables were pushed to the edges and a DJ played beat and rock music. Then, at 5 o’clock disco time was up.
After a bit of sweeping and re-arranging of the tables, the tavern was ready for the “Vierteles-Schlotzer”, the area’s drinkers, who would stay until midnight. And Stäffele would then open at 4am as an early bar for all the night owls, shift workers, policemen and all the “kerb swallows” whose night wasn’t over yet or was only just beginning! Erika Wilhelmer was always communicative and persistent and had the best contacts to Stuttgart’s captains of industry, politicians and other dignitaries. With this, she succeeded in attracting many visitors from near and far at the tavern “Stuttgarter Stäffele”!
In the 1980s, she acquired the neighbouring building on Augustenstraße 31 and opened up a bar on the ground floor set up in the style of an old chemist’s. Both men and women could enjoy a freshly poured beer or a glass of wine with a view of hundred year old medicine drawers and pharmaceutical accessories from the bar. The symbol of medics, the Aesculapian snake, was hung on the entrance door wrapped around a tulip beer glass, and Erika Wilhelmer wanted to call the bar “Apotheke” (“pharmacy” in German), but it wasn’t allowed at the time!
She even printed out “prescription slips” and “sick notes” to help her guests convalesce after enjoying a little too much alcohol. She even had to go to court, where she tried to convince the judge of her business idea and her choice of name! After some entertaining negotiations and judicial intervention to boot with a double-digit fine, Erika Wilhelmer changed the bar’s name! “Apotheke” became “Ampulle”!
Decades later, under the leadership of her son Michael Wilhelmer, the wine tavern “Stuttgarter Stäffele” is now a medium-sized hospitality company with around 140 employees. Now, in each of its four restaurants “Stuttgarter Stäffele”, “Ampulle”, “The Dry Gin & Beef Club”, Amici and Stuttgarter Schlachthof with the pig museum, customers are indulged to the utmost degree every single day! At the Cannstatter Wasen, the world’s second largest gastronomical event, the company is represented by “Wilhelmer’s Schwabenwelt”, a two-storey tent with 6000 seats.
With plenty of Tyrolean waste wood and elaborate furnishings, they have created an extraordinary space for exuberant celebrations!
With Wilhemer Catering, we have a presence at the city’s biggest public events - the Stuttgarter Weindorf, the Christmas Market and the Sommerfest as well as sporting events.
In 2014, we started to think about how we could give Ampulle a new “drive” with its chemist’s set-up. It occurred to us, that some of our guests were eating less meat, while others were looking for particularly high-quality meats. Sustainably reared dry aged beef with regional origin was a hot topic of the day. Inevitably, we got from dry aged beef to dry gin, and so, our concept was born: “The Dry Gin & Beef Club”! We bring the biggest selection of gins with the best steaks on offer in what is probably Stuttgart’s smallest steak restaurant!
Then came the details. Tenderloin, rib-eye, single or double rump steak, T-bone, porterhouse and the mighty Tomahawk steak from the 800ºC grill! With every cut, we tried to get the best quality from our suppliers! It was important to us to find responsible and sustainable animal rearing in a free-range environment. Mass-produced meats were therefore out of the question for us! We successfully introduced the spare ribs day on Wednesdays! Tender ribs, marinated for 24 hours, carefully cooked in the oven then grilled for a short time before being covered with our BBQ cranberry sauce and served with coleslaw and toasted bread. Simply finger licking good!
To begin with, we only had 140 gin varieties at the bar! But we still had the biggest gin selection of any bars or restaurants in the southwest of Germany. Gins from far-off lands and, of course, from Germany too. Many varieties have been produced here in the past few years, mainly in small distilleries. Gin has become a real ‘boom’ - there are always new varieties appearing on the market. So far, we’ve got about 250 of them and don’t see ourselves stopping anytime soon!
So we can accompany our gins suitably, we also have a range of around 20 tonic water varieties! Sometimes your classic tangy flavours, sometime fruity or floral. There’s the perfect tonic for every gin!
Then we began the gin tasting sessions. In order to sell this large number of gins, we need to study the juniper spirit closely.
We had to study the techniques of distillation, its history, the healing arts of the shamans, medicine men and herb women and the spread of different regional liqueurs across Europe in the middle ages. And much more! Each gin has its own exciting history that we love to share with our guests during the tastings!
Aside from the regular tasting sessions, “private tasting” sessions also came into being, where take small groups of guests and present their favourite gins.
Sometime later, we started our “Burger & Lobster Day”, where, in cooperation with Munich’s Burger & Lobster Bank, we serve the finest lobster with our home-made beef patties.
We’ve had great success with this concept for more than seven years now. We have improved our performance continuously. There’s no end in sight for the “gin boom”! Sales are always going up both in the market and in our little restaurant!
The course is now set for the “Dry Gin & Beef Club” to go on new journeys! In the foreseeable future, we hope to bring our idea to other locations both at home and abroad!
The preparations for this are running at full steam!