Established in 1782, A.Van Wees distillery de Ooievaar claims to be the last authentic distillery left in Amsterdam, producing a range of Old Dutch genevers, bitters and liqueurs. Their products are made from pure natural raw materials, including combinations of fruits, flowers, plants, roots and seeds. This combined with the knowledge passed down through generations is the key to the Van Wees recipes. Today the company is run by Fenny Van Wees and a small loyal crew in Amsterdam.
So the afternoon kick started at 2 pm with a Van Wees masterclass hosted by Fenny Van Wees herself. Some of the products on tasting were Van Wees Heaven on Earth, Van Wees Very Old Genever, Van Wees Amsterdamsche Old Genever and Van Wees Three Corners Gin. Each going down a treat!
After a quick break it was straight into the cocktail competition, the part everyone had been waiting for!
After playing around with the Van Wees products, each bartender had to come up with cocktails on the spot. They could enter as many drinks as they liked and were judged purely on taste alone – not presentation. Behind the bar was all the equipment, glassware and ingredients anyone would need so no preparation beforehand was necessary.
For the lucky winner, the prize was a trip to Amsterdam, home of Van Wees, and for all runners up, a product from the Van Wees collection. With so many prizes to be won, it was clear from the outset that the standard of competition would be high. Our 4 judges, Fenny Van Wees (of course), Nick Bell (Amathus Retail Manager), Chris Turner and Dimitris Gryparis (Bar manager at The Library), would have a very hard decision to make.
Right from the word go, each bartender showed passion and determination, taking the time to perfect the taste of each cocktail they made. Given the fact they were all surrounded by the same ingredients, each cocktail brought its own individual taste and uniqueness. After a good few hours and numerous attempts at making cocktails, the time had arrived for the judges to make their decision.
After a lot of back and forth our judges had reached a decision. It’s with great pleasure that I can announce that the winners of the Van Wees cocktail competition were:
4th Place Ben from Keystone Crescent
3rd Place Alessandro from Black Foot Exmouth Market
2nd Place Simon Epale from Evans and Peel
and last but not least, in first place and winner of the trip to Amsterdam was, drum roll please…….. Sam from Portside Parlour. Congratulations to all you and Sam… of to Amsterdam you go!
Finally, I’d just like to say a big thank you to Fenny Van Wees and her family for coming over from Amsterdam to host the masterclass and judge the cocktail competition for us.
Also, thanks to Nick, Chris and Dimitris (our three other judges), job well done guys. And finally to the Library for kindly offering to host the event at your wonderful bar.
Next up we have a Contratto masterclass and cocktail competition on Monday the 9th November at Evans and Peel, London. If you would like to take part, just RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you there!