Perfect Serve

Rynbende Smash: Opa’s New Shoes

Opa's new shoes cocktail met rynbende vintage genever fles op achtergrond

By Alec Gordon

Let me walk you through my journey at Perfect Serve Barshow Amsterdam with Rynbende. It all started a few days before the event when I was in Turkey, preparing to return to the Netherlands by train. I received a call from Sjaak, a man who I had only know from emails, asking me to represent his brand and prepare a cocktail for the “Perfect Serve” event in Amsterdam. I’ve been working as a bartender for around ten years now, taking on freelance gigs regularly. Usually, I’m pretty comfortable with the spirits I work with, but this time, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. You see, I’m not Dutch, so Genever was a bit of a mystery to me, aside from the big-name, somewhat unexciting brands.

Alec Gordon bij perfect serve barshow
Perfect serve barshow sfeer impressie

Imagine me on that train, poring over recipes and trying to wrap my head around flavour pairings, with no real direction in mind. I had some vague ideas, like coriander possibly complementing the botanicals, and the thought of nutmeg and pineapple teaming up sounded promising. I even considered that passionfruit might play a role, but by the time I reached The Hague, I was still clueless about how to showcase the spirit’s unique character.

Then, the breakthrough happened. Sjaak delivered a bottle of Rynbende’s Vintage Genever to my doorstep, and I finally had a chance to taste it. That’s when everything fell into place. The drink evoked memories of the lighter, peaty island whiskies I enjoy and the subtler Speyside varieties, all while staying true to its Genever roots. It suddenly made sense to me as something new and exciting, yet quintessentially Dutch.

As a result, I crafted a cocktail featuring ginger beer, lime, black cardamom falernum, and coriander, which paid homage to Dutch favourites while enhancing the Genever’s unique qualities without overshadowing them. I called it “Opa’s New Shoes” as an honor to Sjaak grandpa

“Perfect Serve” gave me the opportunity to connect with folks from all across the Netherlands and beyond – bartenders, bar owners, industry professionals, and even a few curious souls who snagged tickets. It was enlightening to meet people who had a personal history with Genever, whether through their fathers or grandfathers or as part of cherished family traditions. I even had the pleasure of meeting some folks who could school me on the Rynbende story more than I ever knew.

Thankfully, the cocktail was a hit, and it allowed me to introduce something fresh to those who initially turned their noses up at Genever. Overall, it was a fantastic experience, and I enjoyed getting to know the dedicated guardians of Rynbende and witnessing their vision for the future. The brand received a warm welcome, and many people had their first taste of a drink they’ll undoubtedly

Alec’s cocktail recipe can be found here: “Opa’s New Shoes”

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