Mixology & Gastropubs in the New Golden Age


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I was thrilled to go to Los Angeles, celeb-city, city of Angels and one of the top foodie destinations in the world. But like with most destinations, larger than Amsterdam I mean, the first days I am lost and need to make an itinerary to plough through the must-see and must do attractions. Mixology is a trend that blew over originally from New York, but somehow the people in LA have managed to perfect this craft. Mixology is not just mixing drinks, but goes beyond that. It is the art of mixing the right amount of ingredients to stir or shake up a perfectly balanced beverage.  With the second edition of the Amsterdam Bar Week, Amsterdammers showed to also belong to the cosmopolitan elite of the world, introducing cool and creative events and bringing together brands to create synergies such as Cointreau and Bobbi Brown. The hotel bar scene is also becoming increasingly popular which means that locals are now also finding new hang-outs at the swanky boutique hotels around the city canals. Luckily this also means that today’s hotel bar concepts are more than just a hotel bar, focusing on a distinctive beverage menu where I can clearly see that the mixology trend is slowly establishing in Holland.
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Some of the first specialized cocktail bars were introduced at the beginning of the millennium as very exclusive venues with ‘speak easy’ concept such as Door 74 and Bar Oldenhof. Luckily our mixology heritage wasn’t non-existent to the public with classic cocktail bars such as Harry’s Bar, Lion Noir and Chapter 21.
When we drink we also need something to eat and while many non-Amsterdammers will immediately say “Bitterballen and Borrel” time, the Dutch are also known to have become quiet sophisticated in their tast for food! Fusion cuisine never fully made its way in the Netherlands, maybe due of demand, maybe because of lack of experience in the field or creativity….When talking about food, I always like to say that the Dutch eat to survive – in a good way! Unlike our Belgian neighbors and more so the French, who survive to eat! This reflects in the total food and beverage offering from the supermarket, to a kiosk at the train station and Michelin-awarded establishments. Johannes van Dam, the celebrated Dutch food critic wrote “Delicious Amsterdam” a book about the revolution of Dutch gastronomy and highlights the Dutch cuisine is not the most refined nor the most awarded, but things are changing!
Tapas have already made way for “brown fruit”, as I would like to call the combo platter of fried stuff you get in a traditional Dutch pub including: bitterballen, balls of meat ragout rolled in bread crumbs and fried, fried spring rolls, fried cheese, fried mini frikandel which is like a sausage and so the list continues… Wolfgang Puck and José Andrés have made a perfect combination of mixology meets gastropub adding refreshing and tasty variations to the traditional snack menu. Perhaps a wise decision for Dutch Master Chef Ron Blauw to convert his gastro restaurant into a gastrobar, anticipating on the increasing demand for lounge-like bars where a light meal can also be eaten or an increasing demand in budget variety? &Samhoud Places on the Oosterdoksisland in Amsterdam offers a similar variety where you can enjoy food and drinks in the Lounge or Restaurant. Last but not least The Butcher Amsterdam is a great success and embodies mixology and gastropub in one but with a twist. You will just have to visit to understand that this twist is a cozy ambience where they play good music, locals meet after work and as we roll into the night bar turns into an easy-going club. No wonder since the brain behind The Butcher Amsterdam is also the founding father of Gingers Cafe, Mme Jeanet Lounge and  The Fabulous Shaker Boys delivering educating award-winning cocktail shakers from Holland!
And so in this New Golden Age where the Dutch evolved from potato eaters into truffled potato eaters, mixology and gastropub trends are out there, but still for a happy few. I would encourage more open cocktail bars with plush seatings for lazy sunday evenings and high stools for upbeat Saturday nights where culinary bites go with my fancy cocktail instead of saving the exclusivity for a ‘rainy day’.
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