In the build up to the highly anticipated CITC International Bar featuring leading bars from across Europe at One Marylebone we catch up Thomas Datema of House Bar, Amsterdam.
For guests who haven't been to House Bar could you explain a bit more about the bar.
It's called House bar as it's actually hosted in a 16th Century house that the Kimpton Hotel has built itself around (hard to imagine I know). The bar is well known for promoting and supporting Dutch brands and not just Genevers, we showcase Dutch whiskies, rums, liqueurs and more.
It is regarded as one of the finest bars in Holland, how do you organise your drinks/menu?
Our current menu is organised by the four regions of Amsterdam with three drinks within each section and named after famous landmarks that we think guests would enjoy visiting whilst in the city.
A good example is "The Not So Yellow Submarine". In Northern Amsterdam here is an abandoned submarine in a river adjacent to the shipyards. The local council want to remove it but noone knows who owns it and so it has been sat there for years. North Amsterdam is considered quite trendy, ahead of its time and so we produced a low abv (latest trend of drink) using mezcal (considered a hip spirit).
In our Southern Amsterdam drinks which is known as being quite upper class we use a lot more champagne, expensive Yuzu fruit etc.
I am currently working on releasing the next menu which is inspired by the Circus Carousel, I would like this hotel bar to seen as fun, not a traditional upmarket hotel bar and what that entails.
As a hotel bar you must get asked for a lot of recommendations - what do you advise to guests?
We are actually very proactive with this, make sure we know about all the latest openings and try to recommend based on peoples wishes. For example if they like Whisky we recommend JD Spirits, we are close to the excellent Tales and Spirits Bars and we also really recommend The Bols Experience. It is very multi sensory and it is interesting the experience now focusses a lot more towards the Genever when traditionally it would of been about the liqueurs.
And what drinks have you created for the event?
I am creating two drinks for CITC. One is longer, a real crowd pleaser and is a dutch take on a tiki drink using Dutch rum with Bols Barrel Aged Genever, cream, curacao and citrus served through a creamer and topped with a sparkling wine.
And why are you working with Bols Genever?
As an individual and as a business we want to promote heritage products that have a national identity. Genever is the precursor to the classic London Dry Style Gin that is currently so popular, if you look at the old cocktail books like The Jerry Thomas Book on how to mix drinks from 1862 and considered one of the oldest and most important cocktail books Genever or Hollands Gin is frequently referred to and called for.
It is good to see that Genever is on the up again, more so abroad than in the Netherlands where it is still perceived as an old fashioned drink. It's great to see things like the Bols Experience which has started to alter it's focus to educate guests on the different styles of Genever (there are 14 in all) rather than just its liqueurs. I look forward to showing guests at Cocktails in the City the versatility and quality of Genever working in partnership with Bols.