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.
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”