Mister Cocktail

Posted on 09/11/2016 by Mistercocktail

Door: Daniël Meis

Op 9 november aanstaande gaat Händels ‘Jephtha’ bij de Nationale Opera in première. Wat ons betreft een niet te missen duister stuk vol prachtige koorpartijen en duetten dat bovendien één van de mooiste aria’s bevat die Händel ooit heeft geschreven.

Händel componeerde ‘Jephtha’,  zijn laatste oratorium, in de eerste maanden van 1751.  Het jaar daarvoor was hij betrokken bij een verkeersongeluk –toevalligerwijs in Nederland ergens tussen Haarlem en Den Haag- met als gevolg dat hij in rap tempo blind werd. Zo snel zelfs dat hij zijn werk ettelijke malen moest onderbreken. Toen hij de koorpartij “How dark, O Lord, are thy decrees” had afgerond, schreef Händel in de marge: “Reached here on 13 February 1751, unable to go on owing to weakening of the sight of my left eye.”

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Image by Petrovsky & Ramone for De Nederlandse Opera


Georg Friedrich Händel
werd in geboren in Duitsland en maakte furore in heel Europa. In Italië waar hij voor de Romeinse aristocratie en geestelijkheid componeerde, werd hij vanwege zijn Saksische afkomst ‘Il caro Sassone’ genoemd. Maar het populairst was hij in Engeland. Het Londens publiek kon niet genoeg krijgen van ‘opera seria’, serieuze opera’s in de Italiaanse stijl, en Händel leverde die als geen ander. Kijk op Youtube naar fragmenten van de film ‘Farinelli’ en je krijgt een beetje een idee van de totale hysterie omtrent opera in 18de-eeuws Londen. Tevens voorzag hij de Engelse koninklijke familie -oorspronkelijk ook Duits- van een soundtrack die tot op heden tijdens kroningen, huwelijken en andere plechtigheden van stal wordt gehaald. Later in zijn carrière concentreerde de componist zich op Engelstalige oratoria -vocale muziekstukken met een veelal religieus thema. Hoewel oorspronkelijk bedoeld om in concertvorm op te voeren, worden zijn oratoria tegenwoordig steeds vaker geënsceneerd uitgevoerd. Geslaagde voorbeelden hiervan zijn de Glyndebourne-producties van ‘Saul’ en ‘Theodora’.

Terug naar Jephtha. Hij wordt door de Israëlieten gesmeekt om hen aan te voeren in de strijd tegen de Ammonieten. Deze stemt in onder voorwaarde dat hij in het geval van een overwinning de leider van Israël wordt. Jephtha zweert dat hij in dat geval het eerste levende wezen dat hem bij thuiskomst tegemoet komt als dank aan God zal offeren. Zijn dochter Iphis is verloofd met een jonge krijgsman, Hamor. Het stel is van plan om te trouwen als de veldslag goed afloopt. Uiteraard is er een kink in de kabel: Jephtha komt na de victorie zijn dochter als eerste tegen dus Iphis is de klos. Ofschoon dol op drama en tragiek ging het 18de-eeuwse publiek graag op een positieve noot naar huis dus ook ‘Jephtha’ ontkwam niet aan een gekunstelde ‘happy end’, vaste prik was voor de meeste opera’s en oratoria uit die tijd. Iphis wordt in tegenstelling tot wat er met haar in de bijbel gebeurt net voordat ze wordt afgeslacht, gered door een engel. Overigens op voorwaarde dat ze de rest van haar leven in kuisheid doorbrengt.

Hoe onwaarschijnlijk de plot ook is, de emoties die worden verwoord door de muziek zijn ontroerend reëel. De wetenschap dat Iphis en Hamor de uiteindelijke slachtoffers zijn, maakt hun liefdesduet tijdens de eerste acte des te schrijnender en Jephtha’s aria ‘Waft her angels through the skies’ waarin hij zijn dochter een behouden hemelvaart toewenst, behoort tot het mooiste dat Händel ooit heeft geschreven.

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18th Century caricature on opera in London

 

Kaarten voor Jephtha koop je hier voor de volgende dagen:
Woensdag 9 november (er zijn nog wat losse kaarten voor de première vanavond!)
Vrijdag 11 november
Dinsdag 15 november
Donderdag 17 november
Zondag 20 november
Donderdag 24 november
Zondag 27 november

Posted on 27/10/2016 by Mistercocktail

On October 28th a truly one of a kind pop-up bar will open its doors for only five days. The prestigious Pulitzer Hotel will be the backdrop for the “100 Martini Bar”, the ultimate tribute to the Martini, the most iconic cocktail of all. The concept has been developed by Sipsmith, a London-based distiller who started the craft movement of gins in London. They were the first to distil a gin in London using the traditional copper still for almost 200 years and make their distillates without any shortcuts.

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Image by Ming Chao for Sipsmith

Master Distiller of Sipsmith gin and drinks historian Jared Brown (google him, he’s an authority in a field you probably didn’t realise was there) curated a list of 100 different Martini’s, all documented in books, newspapers and magazines before 1939. This list will be available to taste in one bar, for the first time ever in The Netherlands, and will bedazzle your senses. Their philosophy is that in order to enjoy a Martini, you need to create the best possible sipping environment. And that’s exactly what they did.

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Image by Ming Chao for Sipsmith

Mister Cocktail was invited for the launch and first test-run of the concept last Tuesday, together with other Martini aficionados. After we were welcomed and brought to our table, we were offered the iPad with 4 choices. Firstly, we could choose the Martini of the Day, secondly we could take a leap of faith, the third option was to follow the path to funnel to your favourite Martinis and lastly you could browse the whole list. We went for the questionnaire and based on 3 personal choices it boiled down to 2 or 3 recommendations, different ones for each of us. Just minutes later, a bartender rolled up his trolley next to our table and started preparing our drinks in front of us. Style, hospitality and craftsmanship packed into one little cart.

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image by Ming Chao for Sipsmith

This is an absolute must to visit for all lovers of Martini’s, great style and spirited debates. A setting that is unrivalled, a drinks menu that is unparalleled and an evening that is guaranteed to be monumental. But: be quick to reserve your seats as its for 5 evenings only and the presale has started already. Seats can be reserved here for € 17,50, which includes your first Martini. Consecutive drinks can be ordered, as we would recommend you to do!

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Image by Ming Chao for Sipsmith

 

  • I wrote this article earlier for the-dad.com, as contributor for that site.

 

Posted on 30/06/2016 by Mistercocktail

Tess Posthumus has been on the rise for quite some time now, but with the launch of her first book, the 28-year old has hit a new peak in her carreer. The bartender from Door 74 has won several large competitions, including winner of the global Mixing Star finals and becoming the 1st ranked female bartender in Diageo’s World Class in 2015 (8th overall). The book covers a whole range of different categories: Bloody Mary (perfect for breakfast, right?), cocktails for summertime and cocktails for wintertime, all the way to non-alcoholic cocktails.

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Every tool needed to prepare drinks is being handled, every ingredient that you can buy or need to make yourself is being described and every recipe is written very understandably. From now on you can be a mixmaster at home! The book is now only available in Dutch, for example at Bol.com.

 

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The book contains recipes including a whole range of classics like the Daiquirí, Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Espresso Martini and many many more, but also creations by Tess herself, like the Tessmanian Devil (pictured above), the Leonardo DiCaprio (Rye Whiskey, red vermouth, honey syrup),  and the Tess Optimus (dark rum, campari, pineapple syrup). Many of them are with home-made ingredients, but all are perfectly easy explained in the book.

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This is without a doubt a book that is perfect for the starting at-home bartender but also a must-have for experienced shakers and very happy to have it on my shelves!

 

Posted on 24/06/2016 by Mistercocktail

For many years, Dutch chef Sergio Herman has lead the way in innovation in hospitality and especially in food. I had the chance to interview him a while ago in his restaurant Pure C (he still had Oud Sluis*** at that time) and I already noticed his big interest for spirits and cocktails. In fact, we spoke longer on this subject than on the actual interview and it came to no surprise that in his new restaurant, The Jane, he put a big focus on cocktails, something he already did in Pure C back in 2012.

Image by Mister Cocktail

Sergio Herman with Fever-Tree founder Tim Warrilow

I haven´t had the chance yet to eat at The Jane so I was pretty excited when Fever-Tree Benelux invited me for the launch of a new extention to their already impressive range. Together with Sergio Herman they developed the new Clementine Tonic with cinnamon. This reflects the style of cooking of the famous chef, who loves to work with citrus and spices. The tonic has a fresh and sweet citrus of the clementines that leads to a dry and slightly spicy finish with cinnamon. The tonic goes well with lighter style gins and vodkas.

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We were served the Clementine & Basil Love to start the 9 course lunch that was served as part of the launch. This was de Double You Gin by Van Wilderen, a Belgian Gin made in the town Wilderen, about an hour drive east of Brussels.  I tried the tonic last night at home with Sipsmith gin and this works very well, as both pack a nice punch of cinnamon.

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After the welcome drink the culinary journey began with a shared dish of tofu, salmon, inari salad and miso vinaigrette. The salmon was exquisite. Pictured above is the maccerel, ponzu, daikon and shiso.

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The staff at The Jane combines deep knowledge of the dishes and wines with a flair and style one would expect to find in a fancy cocktailbar, not at a 2** restaurant, but how ultimately refreshing this is! Above is one of the staff explaining about the paella with squid, Zeeuwse cockle and piquillo.

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No words, other than that this was the very best Pastrami sandwich I ever, ever had. Such a world famous dish in which all the ingredients have been pefected. Sergio mentioned that this would be available at his new Frites Atelier (The Hague now and Amsterdam soon). I will be a regular there from day 1, no doubt!

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To conclude this article I can give you 2 recommendations: get the new Fever-Tree Clementine Tonic Water by Sergio as soon as it’s available and try to get a reservation at The Jane. It will be quite hard to find an empty table in the restaurant below, but the Upper Room is slightly easier and the view is all the more spectacular!

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Posted on 21/06/2016 by Mistercocktail

Taste of Amsterdam has firmly established itself in the ever-expanding list of festivals as the leading event for food and lifestyle. In the last years the number of alcohol brands has expanded enormously and, as you can understand, this is what makes it all the more interesting to me. This year the presence was even greater, with wine, whisky and wodka and everything in between to enjoy for the thirsty visitor. And boy, what a thirsty crowd there was this year!

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The most spectacular area by far was created by the Bluespoon Restaurant & Bar in collaboration with Veuve Clicquot and Belvedere Vodka. A lifesize pool was created to reflect the luxurious lifestyle that matches the atmosphere of the 5* Hotelbar (designed by Marcel Wanders) and of the Champagne. The Belvedere Vodka bar was lavishly decorated with fresh herbes to explain their new longdrink: Belvedere Vodka, Dry Vermouth and sparkling water, mixed with a choice of fresh ingredients: thyme, grapefruit, cucumber and lemon.

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The Bloody Mary is making an enormous come-back globally and the Dutch brand Ketel One Vodka is embracing this drink. The stand at ToA was fully focussed on educating visitors on how to personalize the drink to each individual taste. Besides the Kitchen (pictured below) there were masterclasses by well-known bartenders during which all the different components of the Bloody Mary were demonstrated.

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The brightly colored gentleman pictured below made sure the music in the (enormous) stand of Maxxium was handled well. In this stand there was room for Thomas Henry softdrinks, Brugal Rum, Galliano, Sauza, Drambuie, Rémy Martin and a whole range of whisky’s.

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A quick glance at the extensive longdrink menu at the stand of Maxxium was illustrating the increased interest of spirits brands in the event Taste of Amsterdam.

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One of my favourite barteams at the moment is that of Pulizer’s Bar, lead by the immaculative Andrew Nichols. The hotel had an own area, with live-music, food and, of course, drinks. They are bringing back The Godfather, a cocktail based on DiSaronno and whisky and yes, it’s much better than you would think!

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The picture below I took at the opening evening where we were hosted by Veuve Clicquot on their pooldeck. The drinks of choice were Veuve Clicquot Champagne Brut and their Rich, a sweeter champagne that is intended for mixing with bell pepper (my favourite), earl grey tea, pineapple, mint or grapefruit.

 

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A special mention goes to Hendrick’s Gin, who created a secret garden with a special VR-experience around this quite unusual gin.

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I visited Taste of Amsterdam on 3 consecutive days (and for 6 consecutive years) and every year I like it better. The eye for detail is super, the food is of a very high level (sometimes a long wait, but well worth!) and I am so very pleased to see so many spirits brands reaching out to the consumer. It indicates that the Dutch market is changing for the good, with many chosing quality over quantity. Allthough at Taste of Amsterdam these went hand-in-hand very well.

Posted on 18/06/2016 by Mistercocktail

This Sunday is the start of the 9th edition of Cocktails & Spirits, the barshow in Paris and it is one of the most defining shows for Europe, maybe even for the world. Paris has seen a complete turn-around from lagging lightyears behind, to being one of the leading cities for cocktails in a very short matter of time. Thierry Daniel (pictured below), founder of Cocktails & Spirits has witnessed the revival of the Parisian cocktailscene from within and made a next big move by starting the Paris Cocktail Week (PCW), together with his business partner Eric Fossard. The next step starts today with the Summer Cocktail Week in Paris. I had the chance to interview Thierry in his bar Le Coq about this shift, that happened almost overnight.

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Paris Cocktail Week is now in it’s 2nd year running and it is to build a bridge between the professional and the consumer. Paris is unique, it is one of the best scenes in the world, maybe not the best, but it’s very active, there are many nationalities, much creativity and just a great community where everybody helps each other. It’s a very good time to be working in the cocktail business.

Cocktails & Spirits is very different from PCW, as this is focussed at the professional, but ultimately the bartender is a key factor in educating the consumer. So even C&S is created with the consumer in mind, to educate the bartender. We have really seen the revolution in the scene and of course we have contributed to this but without media, bartenders and bars it would not have happened. You can’t achieve things like this all alone. C&S brought the boom of the cocktail from the US, UK, Germany etc to France – we are sometimes not very openminded and focus too much on our own culture, wine and cheese etcetera and not necessarily on cocktails and it’s important for the community to be inspired by other countries.

“The Paris Cocktail Week is very different from the one in London as cocktails are not yet mainstream in France. We are building the brand slowly, to help people discover the cocktail trends. It’s therefore very important to organise masterclasses for people to learn about cocktails and the history of drinks. At the moment we mainly follow trends, but this may change over time. Sometimes in France we think that what we think is the best, but in this case it’s not true. The trends come from the US, the UK and Germany. For us, it’s important to give inspiration and in time we can define the French culture. So in five years time, but not now, we can set trends. The world is entering the 2nd Golden Age of Cocktails and PCW is helping to build the understanding of why cocktails should be in France.

“At the same time we are rediscovering our heritage: at Le Coq we use a French ingredient in each cocktail. Le Syndicat is only using French products in their menu. It is a big trend globally to use local spirits, to rediscover their heritage. Also in France we see a come-back of Calvados, Armagnac, Cognac and Champagne, drinks that were considered old-fashioned.

“The influence of cocktails was very big at the end of the 19th century, the Boom of Paris, with the opening of some of the great hotels, L’Exposition Universelle in 1900 and the influence of the prohibition in the US. But after WWII we didn’t really recover and especially in the 80s and 90s the cocktails were really bad.

“The change came in 2007 when Experimental Cocktail Club was opened: good music, good cocktails and good value for money. It was something new and exciting. In that year we also started PCW and we realised that in order to be a leading market you need to educate. For example, we organized a masterclass last January at PCW in Le Mary Celeste about non-alcoholic cocktails. It was very unique, cocktails with the same texture, flavours and appeal as alcoholic cocktails. A bar is like a liquid kitchen and we can use many new techniques like rotavap and fermentation to push creativity. But it is important to understand all ingredients, not just the alcohol.

“The new trend in gastronomy is about experience. In good restaurants and bars it’s now all about the experience and we don’t care if that’s with or without alcohol. We need to democratize the cocktail offer, so not just based on alcohol. So PCW is for the consumer and not for the bartenders. We want to create a door to this experience and all the best bars are collaborating to achieve this. Each bar also creates two cocktails specially for PCW, one with and one without alcohol.

Before he created C&S, Thierry was working for La Maison Du Whisky, where he helped create and launch Whisky Live, one of the world’s leading events in whisky. His business partner Eric Fossard was working in London during the late 90s with icons like Nick Strangeway, Dre Masso, Henry Besant, Charles Vexenat, when the cocktail revolution started.

“It took a bit longer than we expected to reach Paris. It’s a small city, not like New York and London and we don’t change the culture so easily. For PCW we have 50 bars participating, with 15 nationalities working behind the bar.  It takes more time because we don’t have the same dynamics as Hong Kong, Singapore and London, we take it step by step, but we have changed the mentality. The bars are all run by bartenders who have become entrepeneurs. Carina [Soto Vélasquez of Glass, LMC, Candelaria] was a bartender and now owns these bars. Other examples are Olivier Bon for ECC, Joseph Biolatto with Baton Rouge, Scotty Schruder in Dirty Dick, all bars run by bartenders so it’s a different mentality. In other cities, bars are more built around the startender, so it’s a big difference.

Bars are not just to have a drink, it’s a question of lifestyle, to appreciate hospitality, to be hedonist, to take time for yourself. And bars are a culture between many cultures. It’s a link between design, architecture, music and art and they all meet with cocktails. Bars used to be focussed on drinks and now it’s about the guest and it’s very open-minded. There are no fronteers and you can eat, drink a beer, have a cocktail, go outside, come back in so it’s more based on the expecation of the guest. This is a good evolution in the market, ultimately it’s the guest who pays. There are so many links between the evolution of food and drinks, so we try to combine these in this mixture of cultures with art, music, design, architecture, chefs and bartenders. And for that, Paris Cocktail Week is unique.

 

Posted on 17/06/2016 by Mistercocktail

Foodpairing with spirits is becoming an increasingly relevant topic in top gastronomy. We all know the strong link between wine and food, but spirits are working their way to the chef’s table as well. A few years ago I helped set up the bar in &Samhoud Places, a 2* restaurant in Amsterdam. More than a few times I acted as spirit sommelier for the guests in the restaurant to advice them on which whisky, cognac or even gin they should have with a course. It is also great to see how much the gastronomic scene has helped launch the Gin & Tonic into orbit. In the newest season of Chef’s Table of Netflix, Mexican chef Enrqiue Olvera visits mezcal distillers in Oaxaca and explains how he pairs this distillate with his dishes. We also see this development in Whisky and it came to no surprise that The Glenlivet has set up such a collaboration in The Netherlands with with of the best chefs, François Geurds.

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François has been around: he worked at Parkheuvel when it received as its 3rd Michelinstar for the very first time in The Netherlands. After that he worked at Duck & Waffle, which was called World’s Best Restaurant in 2005. In 2009 he opened his own restaurant, which earned the first Michelin star just 9 months after opening and in 2013 he received a second star. In 2014 he opened FG Labs in Rotterdam, where he can experiment with flavours as much as he likes to further develop his ideas. And where he welcomed us to present a special 6-course foodpairing with The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. We were first served the FG cocktail in his lab, a complex preparation with cubed ginger and flambé rosemary & laurel served in a cocktailcoupe with dry ice, with a mixture added of orange juice, ginger ale and Founder’s Reserve and garnished with grapefruit-, lemon- and imezest. It was a very pleasant cocktail, but impossible to create at home. For that I would recommend the following:

Prepare your whisky by 2 thumbnail slices of fresh ginger, an orange-, lime- and grapefruitpeel and shortly whisky-flambéed rosemary in your bottle of Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Let this steep for an hour or 4, strain and mix with chilled orange juice and Fever-Tree ginger ale. It’s best served in a longdrink with icecubes. Serve with an orange zest.

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We were taken back to the FG Labs restaurant for a culinary fest that included tuna tartar with a vinaigrette of The Glenlivet (above and below) with yuzu, grape, crunchy brioche and pear. Ambassador Wim de Ridder explained us in the meantime about the history of The Glenlivet that started in 1824, only a year after a new law was passed to legalize the production of whisky. It was the first distillery to apply for a permit, making it the first official one in Scotland, even though there are many older distilleries (Royal Brackla 1812, Ardbeg and Laphroaig from 1815). Due to the recent developments in global demand for single malt whisky, The Glenlivet has abandoned their 12 year old as flagship and introduced the Founder’s Reserve, a blend of single malt whisky’s without age statement. Many other big producers have made the same move and technically there is nothing wrong with this as it’s still the same skill that is needed from the Master Blender. I would only applaud it when these brands would state on the label which whisky’s were used to create that specific blend. This would bring back the justification for the price, as, in my opinion, age is the one thing that can indicate the value of a whisky. This can’t be done by the name and packaging alone and with the freedom to use younger whisky’s instead of 12 years and up for a single malt prices should be going down instead of up. All in all, this whisky is a very nice addition to the range, accessible, yet interesting for experienced whisky drinkers. The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is now Whisky of the Month at Gall.nl so available for a very interesting price!

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It was remarkable how well the whisky paired with each dish, as it has many fruity and sweeter notes. “Dishes need to surpise and even challenge you, something that is also achieved by the creators of Scottish single malt whisky. In both my restaurants I try to push boundaries. In this collaboration with The Glenlivet we try to alter traditional thoughts on drinking whisky, like only drinking it at the end of a good meal.” Each of the preparations has an element of whisky in it, so we could have a sip of the Founder’s Reserve to bring out new flavours in both the dish and the whisky. In his laboratory he has deconstructed the whisky to create new combinations adn experiences.

Another preparation we were served was Gurnard with cocquile, artichoke, broth of kelp, cresson and chicken (pictured below) which was the highlight of the meal for me, but the whole experience was a highlight in itself. And did I mention the Whisky au Beurre with aspergus and Josélito he perpared for us? Truly divine!

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The idea of foodpairing is great and starting at this ambitious level is good as you can really see the amount of thought that actually goes into developing new dishes and analysing ingredients. However, it is important that more accessible ways of preparing food with whisky are presented as well as not everyone has rotavaps and other professional equipment at home.

There will come a time when pairing food and spirits will be (almost) as normal as it now is with wine and sommeliers will cross over to the more heavy side of alcohol to expand their knowledge. On a broader note, whisky is making a comeback in cocktails which we also saw demonstrated at the FG Labs. François demonstrated that you can make a great cocktail with single malt whisky as many bartenders have done as well. I have been serving classic cocktails at the Whisky Festival The Hague for the past 3 editions and I did encounter a lot of raised eyebrows, until I could convince them of the great concoctions that can be created with whisky, both single malt and blended scotch. Expect to see more creations based on whisky in a cocktailbar near you very soon, even though it will remain confined to the high-end bars in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Posted on 16/06/2016 by Mistercocktail

Luxury comes in many shapes and forms, but when the name Waldorf-Astoria is on the invite, one can be pretty sure it’s of the highest possible quality. The branch in Amsterdam opened its doors May 2014 and includes 2 restaurants, one of them with 2 Michelin stars. Fortunately, with the rise of hotelbars in Amsterdam, the hotel is also equipped with a great cocktailbar. To lift this to an international level, the hotel brought in Wilson Pires from Portugal, and his brother Thiago. The award-winning duo (I met Wilson last year in Venezuela, where he was with the final 6 of the Diplomático Global World Tournament) has created a new menu and for the I was invited for the launch.

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The duo took their inspiration from their travels around the world, creating 10 cocktails based on local ingredients, with matching presentations. The Peso for example is based on Mexico and disguised as bottle of Corona : served in a bottle with fresh lime. But actually it’s a cocktail based on the Bloody Mary, with chipotle-infused Tequila, mezcal, chilaca pepper and pickled yellow pear tomatoes (pear-shaped yellow tomatoes, hence the name) and it is absolutely to die for.

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The cocktail pictured above is the Rupee with Chaat Masala infused Absolut Elyx Vodka, Coriander, Verjus, curried pineapple, ginger and IPA beer. The logical drinking vessel is a copper pinapple, as this fruit is the international symbol of hospitality, but also linking to the distillation process of the vodka.

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The cocktails were presented in the old vault, which was sadly not suitable for the bar intself as the ceiling is too low by law. Inside this space we were welcomed by Roberto Payer, general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria, Ronald Ockhuysen, editor-in-chief of Parool and Wilson Pires. They explained the history of the location – 6 canal houses from the 17th and 18th century linked together – and the thoughts behind creating the cocktail menu. The entrance of the hotel is worth a mention as well, as it was designed by Daniel Marot, the architect of cityholder William III,  and puts you in te right mindset right away. Continue your way to the left and down the stairs to enter the souterrain where Goldfinch and The Vault are located and follow the instructions given by the hospitable staff.
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Another one of my favourite creations was the Nuevo Sol, a cocktail inspired by Peru with Pisco, cherimoya (a local fruit from teh Andes), pickled pear ceviche and huacatay, also called Peruvian Black Mint and it’s served in a teepee style vessel (see image above, the cocktail with teh tarragon on top). All cocktails are priced € 17, which may seem like a steep price, but if you consider the amazingly designed space, with a view on the garden behind the hotel (which you can even enter for a walk or a smoke) and the impeccable and personal service by Wilson and Thiago, it’s more than a fair price.

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And did I mention the bar bites? These are truly off the chart, and all from the hand of Sidney Schutte, the executive chef of Librije’s Zusje. These include a foie gras lollipop (image above), deepfried tulip and a pretty sweet Wagyu-burger and are all great to accompany your drinks!

 

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Posted on 15/04/2016 by Mistercocktail

Recently, I travelled to Middleton, Ireland, to visit the distillery of Jameson Irish Whiskey. An impressive site that boasts 3 enormous copper pot stills with 3 more on its way. Irish whiskey has seen a steep rise of interest by consumers around the world and this development is not looking to take a halt anytime soon. That’s also why Jameson is building new warehouses, next to the 54 existing ones, to grow their number of barrels to 3 million, which are ussed not only for Jameson, but also for some other brands like Redbreast. During summertimes the whiskey in the barrel expands and gets deep into the wood. In winter the spirit shrinks again drawing all the flavours of the wood back into the ageing whiskey. I was told that on average, the equivalent of  a no less than 24.000 bottles of Jameson evaporates every single of the year. It is called The Angel’s Share.

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Ex-bourbon barrels and ex-sherry butts are mostly used for making Jameson Whiskey and this  is the precise reason why we travelled to Ireland. The main guests were Rik Nelson and Sander Nederveen, owners at Oedipus Brewery in Amsterdam. Jameson had invited them for a special collaboration they are setting up in multipe countries, called Caskmates. The first brewery the teamed up with was The Fransiscan Well in Cork. A number of B2 barrels (meaning they had been filled with Jameson Whiskey twice) were shipped to the brewery who developed a special Stout to be aged in those barrels. After the beer was bottled, those barrels were shipped back to be re-filled with whiskey. This final product was bottled as James Caskmates and it will be launched today in The Netherlands.

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The motto of Jameson is Sine Metu, which is Latin for Without Fear. This is where they found their drive to build their brand and also lead them to the partners for Caskmates. The guys from Oedipus met at The Beertemple, a landmark beerbar in Amsterdam . They started brewing at home, experimenting also without fear, which lead to their first beer: Mannenliefde. After several collaborations with different brewers they established their own site in Amsterdam, which I will visit today for the launch of their new beer, aged in Jameson Barrels!

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Sander and Rik were welcomed by Ger Buckley, master cooper at Jameson. The knowledge of handling barrels was passed on for a few generations and even his tools date back 2 generations of master coopers. He showed us the different tools to repair and (dis-)assemble barrels, also tools that were handed to him by his father and his father before him. He explained how different barrels affect the whiskey all in their own way, making this the challenge of the Master Blender. Barrels are used a maximum of 3 times, after that they can’t effectively age whiskey anymore.

Left to right: Rik Nelson, Ger BUckley, Sam O'Leary and Snader Nederveen

Left to right: Rik Nelson, Ger BUckley, Sam O’Leary and Sander Nederveen

It was a great experience, to see how modern techniques go hand in hand with knowledge of the past: the great copper stills are monitored by computer, but it’s still the old principle of distillation. The Master Cooper still works with tools that are the same or similar to the ones used a centry ago but barrels are now machine-made, instead of by hand. Good for Ger Buckley as machine-made barrels lead to more leakage and thus more work for him, ensuring the need for his craftmanship.

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Old workplace of coopers. The tools haven’t changed since!

Posted on 09/03/2016 by Mistercocktail

It’s Wednesday, which means almost weekend. So many things to do again and so little time. This week’s agenda features the newly opened X Bank, a multi disciplinary concept store, The Duchess, one of Amsterdam’s finest restaurants and bars, and a few pop-up concepts that need some booking ahead.

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Amsterdam’s first Vermuteria

 

Planning ahead.

Have you ever wanted to have dinner on the playing field of the Amsterdam ArenA, in a ‘workspace’ at the Red Light District or on a ferry? Here’s your chance, thanks to Foodora.
You can start making your reservations for pop-up restaurants at these landmark locations from today. However, there won’t be any chefs at work here, you need to order your food by app. Your order will be delivered within 30 minutes, by bicycle. Speaking of landmarks: 2 of the greatest operas ever composed will be performed at the Dutch Opera in May and September: Don Giovanni and Le Nozze Di Figaro, both by Mozart. These big classics fill up quite fast, so make sure to book well ahead, this week for example.

Another venue that is filling up very fast is the pop-up restaurant Roomservice at St Olof’s. Chef Chris Naylor * has created a menu based on vegetables and herbs, with meat or fish as a sidedish. It is located in an old chapel that has been decorated with the old interiors of the Barbizon Palace hotel rooms. Apart from a lucky table, you are not able to book any seats before the 29th of March. If you want to visit this place for a drink, you can get a Vermouth & Tonic at the first Vermuteria in The Netherlands, or one of the G&T’s at King Charles II, the Fever-Tree pop-up bar. Both bars are located in the vide above the po-up restaurant.

photo by X Bank

Where to go this week?

A new shopping concept has opened its doors: X Bank. A cultural platform which combines graphic design, fashion, literature and photography, all with Dutch DNA. It is open every day, with expositions opening every Friday. X Bank is conveniently located behind the Dam Square, in the former Kasbank building. Which brings me to the place you should go for dinner and cocktails straight after: The Duchess. Both X Bank and The Duchess are in the same building, so tired legs can get their well-deserved rest after a long day out in the city. Order one of the fabulous cocktails at the bar, please note that all drinks on this menu are based on home-made ingredients. While you sip on, let’s say, a Gimlet, you can absorb the grandeur of the place, the majestic chandeliers, the Hermes statue and glass-in-lead ceiling. From there you proceed to your table to prepare yourself for a culinary fest. The dishes are for shared dining, but it’s okay to eat the plate all by yourself. A must-try is the Chocolate Explosion for dessert. It’s literally what the name says.

If you’re still not ready to head home quite yet, you can cross the street to the W Hotel, where, on the top floor, the brand new Mr Porter is located. The view is stunning, and you’ll find yourself eye to eye with the roof of the Royal Palace. Weather provides you can sit outside during a nice spring day, but chances are you’ll lounge in one of the comfortable seats with a view on the city below. The cocktails here are divided in eight categories like Refreshing, Savoury, Exotic and Cold Trolley. Curious? Thirsty? That sounds like me!

Fancy a Gin tasting? Go to the pop-up bar King Charles II which I mentioned earlier, inside St Olof’s Chapel. On Saturday the 12th you can book a tasting of Hermit Dutch Coastal gin, which starts at 5 pm.

Image by John Lewis Marshall

Image by John Lewis Marshall

The Stedelijk Museum has started a series of collaborations, called Stedelijk X, with Amsterdam-based entrepeneurs who make an impact in their field. Each one selects his or her 10 favourite works of art and creates an audio tour on Soundcloud. The current selection is made by Josje van Hagen, founder of Showpony Productions. Her tour can be taken until the 18th of March.

Currently playing in the Dutch Opera is Chovansjtsjina, a story about a movement in Russia that was oriented towards the West. They were opposed by the conservatives, lead by prince Khovanski, and the clashes between the groups bring scenes that are sometimes intimate and sometimes overwhelmingly large in scale. There are a few shows this week and not all are sold out, so you may want to keep your eye on this site.

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