In the late 90s, Albert van Beeck Calkoen was working as a bartender in the city of Utrecht. Some of his colleagues got into making cocktails, and he instantly fell in love with the art of mixology. Then the cocktail scene took off, and he started his own cocktail catering company. Thirty years, and a lot of cocktail-related celebrations, later, he organises Amsterdam's newest cocktail event in de Gashouder: The Art of Drinks 2021.
What, and for whom, is The Art of Drinks?
The Art Of Drinks is for everyone who enjoys a good glass of wine, an exciting beer and a great spirit or cocktail. And also for those who are interested in hearing the story behind those brands. In essence, The Art Of Drinks is a storytelling platform for the best brands in the scene. During the weekend there are, of course, plenty of bars stacked with new and beautiful products, but it's also a great possibility to engage with wine specialists, brand ambassadors and other professionals in the hospitality industry.
Why did you choose the Gashouder as this year's event space?
I believe that for brands to tell their story correctly, we need to create the best circumstances. The Gashouder is one of the most iconic locations in Amsterdam and the perfect setting to discover new and exciting drinks.
What's your favourite place to drink in Amsterdam?
In no particular order, and realising I can't name all of them, I find Salmuera, Pulitzer's Bar, Super Lyan, Bar Twentyseven and Flying Dutchmen Cocktails among my favourite places to visit in the city. But there is so much more talent in Amsterdam.
Explore more of our favourite cocktail bars in the city.
What makes Amsterdam's food and drink scene unique?
Over the past years, the scene has exploded, launching Amsterdam to the top global destinations for cocktails. Food pairing is becoming an integral part of this experience, as we can see from the number of bars doing food and restaurants serving cocktails.
Who are the most innovative Amsterdam bartenders? And why?
Martin Eisma (Salmuera) for his crazy vision on drinks, Julian Bayuni (Vesper) for his take on health and sustainability, Tess Posthumus and Timo Jansse (Flying Dutchmen) for their concepts and the entire team at SuperLyan, as they develop each drink together.
What's on the rise in the Amsterdam cocktail scene right now?
A re-appreciation of classics is happening. There are (fortunately) a few menus entirely based on crazy in-house redistilled spirits, infusions and tinctures. Although I have to say that the new menu by Super Lyan is both of these worlds: based on the Savoy Cocktail Book (from 1930!), they have deconstructed each classic and rebuilt it, using all homemade ingredients. And it's amazing.
Non-alcoholic drinks such as beer and cocktails are becoming increasingly popular. What do you notice in particular about this trend in Amsterdam?
There is a vast difference in the trend of non-alcoholic beers on one side and non-alcoholic wines and spirits on the other hand. Where non-alcoholic beers are fully accepted as a great alternative, I notice that non-alcoholic wines and spirits are slowly gaining ground in the Randstad, but not much outside of it.
Which drink trend are you tired of?
That is by long and far the Hard Seltzer, but I am very much not the target group of this drink.
What is your favourite drink hotspot outside of Amsterdam?
Bar Wigbolt in Haarlem for sure!
Which drink should everybody try once in their life?
I have tasted more drinks than I can remember, and I always say that the best cocktail is the one I have in my glass at that moment. Do I have to choose one? I'm a big fan of the Kosho Colada at Salmuera, so try that when you are there.