Time at the Bar: Tess Posthumus

A favourite of ours at World Class, Tess Posthumus came onto our radar very quickly when she won the Dutch National Finals in 2015 and placed in the top 8 in the Global Finals, becoming the Best Female Bartender Worldwide. With one of the best work ethics in the industry she’s gone on to open her own bar, Flying Dutchmen Cocktails with Timo Janse and is releasing her third book in 2020. We caught up with her to find out where it all began...

 

Where did it all start?

It started when I was studying, and began working in hospitality as a side job to fund my studies. I worked in bars and hotels across Amsterdam. My passion grew when I started running the bar on quiet nights and quizzing my co-workers. I really evolved by throwing myself into seminars and competitions to improve my skills.

Where did you cut your teeth?

Door74 in Amsterdam, one of the world’s best bars and first speakeasy in Western Europe. I started there in 2009 and fell in love with the industry. I ended up staying for eight years!

What’s your strongest bar memory?

The people I met. It’s a bar that everyone in the industry would always stop by. My personal network grew massively whilst I was at Door74, it made you realise how big the industry is but at the same time how small it is.

Your biggest influence when you were starting out?

Timo Janse (former World Class winner in 2010) was head bartender at Door74 and he was instrumental in training me and sourcing new and rare spirits. I was amazed by the number of spirits that I had never heard of, it has always been a game for him to find the unknown spirits and brands that our colleagues hadn’t heard of. 

The drink you hated people ordering?

Mojito! The problem is that if people see it, they will keep ordering it. The same as a fresh mint tea in a restaurant. My passion is to make people want to try something new based on what they like and their tastes. If you ask them what they like about a mojito, they usually won’t know how to answer. 

How has the scene in Amsterdam changed? 

Massively! There were only five proper cocktail bars in Amsterdam in 2010, three years after Door 74 opened. There’s now over 60 bars, plus events such as Amsterdam Cocktail Week. Consumer knowledge has grown massively. We’re still not on the same level as London, but I’m working to change that with my new bar, Flying Dutchmen Cocktails. We focus on the classics, showing the evolution certain drinks have gone through and weaving in modern twists.

What are today’s bartenders missing?

There is a lot of focus on signature serves and the ‘instagramability’ of a drink, but it is important to know the classics and what came before. Knowledge of what happened in the industry before you joined it. That needs to be the foundation when you are developing serves.

Which bartenders are killing it in the scene today?

I love Asia, I am really excited by the changes in the bar scene in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and China. Otherwise my heroes include Monica Berg, Joe Schofield and Erik Lorincz who are always on top of their game and opening their own bars.

If you could only make one more cocktail?

The Corpse Reviver #2 is a personal favourite of mine - a classic cocktail with a great history and story. In terms of flavour it’s fresh and not too heavy, while still packing quite a punch. It is a drink that almost everyone can enjoy.