Mathias Heller wants to revive the classic soda culture with his siphon manufacture. That's why he restores old siphons - creating unique pieces with a history for true bar culture enthusiasts.
We were a small group of friends, and as bourbon lovers we loved to go to cocktail bars. On a trip to New York we stumbled upon an old Sparklets Soda Siphon at a flea market, which we bought for about 20 dollars. Wouldn't that be a cool thing, we thought, to get this already a bit battered siphon working again?
We hadn't even thought of a deal yet. We wanted the syphon for our own use. In the past, bars used to mix drinks like bourbon with soda water - and the soda water was made in these siphons. At that time, the only thing that stood in the foreground was the idea of being able to mix a really authentic Bourbon & Soda. We restored this first one and were delighted with the result.
Then we discovered that these old, glass siphons were also offered on the Internet. We started to show the self-restored siphons to our bartenders friends. They were enthusiastic and, like us, felt that water treatment deserves more style.
So we got the opportunity to build up a small business. In the beginning there were three of us, but the other two quit at the end of their studies. Now there is only me and a restorer. And in real life I am the managing director of a medium-sized company. I run the Siphon Manufaktur, founded in 2012, as a hobby out of passion, since we are in a tiny niche market.
For the restoration work I hired a trained precision mechanic who knows his trade. Together we have made many developments, for example a machine that cleans the bottles. Or a capsule holder that fits on all siphons. This is the part into which the soda cartridge is inserted - a really critical piece, because it is missing from 70 percent of the old siphons.
Today we specialize in the Sparklets brand. Sparklets was the most important manufacturer in the world between 1900 and 1960, producing around four million units during that period. Finding them is often difficult. I pay attention to household resolutions, and am happy when siphons are found in the cellar or attic. Once I was able to buy a larger stock, 300 pieces, from an American private person. One of my study friends, who lives in the USA, came across it by chance during a warehouse liquidation. That was ein Glücksfall. Of course I accessed it immediately.
Up until 2013, we actually only sold our siphons In the meantime we also use the internet as a platform. The circle of customers is very different. Er ranges from private individuals to bars like "The Golden Bar" in Munich's Haus der Kunst, hotels like the Waldorf Astoria in New York, the Mandarin Oriental in Milan, Shangri La in Singapore, the Dorchester in London or the Rosewood in Bangkok and Phnom Penh. Spirit companies, such as the Italian beverage producer Campari, also order the siphons.
In addition, since 2014, we have had a new high-quality siphon from Japan in our range. The Tokyo Soda Siphon is fall-proof and lighter than the hand-restored glass Sparklets Soda Siphons. I do this because the Tokyo is also a very special object. It is part of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and won the "Design Of The Year" award of the "Wall Street Journal" in 2010. That fits in with our philosophy.
We are currently thinking about expanding the business. Finally, we could also offer matching accessories such as glasses or syrup. Let's see. But that does not have to be the case. I am proud and satisfied that we are the only ones in the world to restore these old siphons. This makes each siphon unique - a real unicum. Since 2012, we have been able to sell about 1000 pieces, which cost between 550 and 750 euros. And have thus ensured 1000 times that a sparkling piece of bar history remains alive. ®