The Cocktail Nation goes Amster-damn! Part one

Door 74

a review of pink partying people and jungle fever

 

It was hot in the city.

You know, the kind of hot that makes desert scorpions say “f**k it”, kick back and relax in mini hammocks, while sipping rum cocktails from tiny Tiki mugs in their pincers.

The kind of hot that makes Sand Vipers spontaneously shed their skin without bothering to grow a new one. That kinda heat.

Fortunately this was Amsterdam and not the Sahara desert or the jungle.

In the mean time the jungle drums already began
But the jungle drums already called in the distance…

 

At first I thought it was a Dutch thing, having to plow your way through hordes of hysterical people in pink, partying their heads off, but apparently that is not the case (they’re just not always in pink). It seems that we had chosen the famous ‘gay pride’ weekend In Amsterdam as our vacation day. Nothing against it, except that it almost doubled the number of visitors in the city. They were everywhere: on the streets next to the canals, on the bridges above the canals and in the canals itself.

While elbowing our way through the pink mass, we were looking for a certain door in a street, “Door 74”. Amsterdam’s famous speakeasy tended by Timo-Janse and Tess Posthumus, amongst others.

team-door74
Door 74 Team

I must say the door was well hidden and the fact that it was covered in thousands of people dressed in pink, didn’t help much.

Somehow we managed to get inside, a welcome haven of peace, compared to the chaos outside. First thing I noticed was that it was very dark inside and taking off my sunglasses didn’t help much. Darkness is not necessarily a bad thing, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to read the menu in this light (or absence thereof). We received a warm welcome by Timo and a seat at the bar. This guy is amazing, the multi-tasking wizard of cocktail making. I mean, he was constantly making cocktails, one after the other and in the meantime talking to us, presenting the menu, explaining it, letting us taste a rum, etc… All that with at least one hand holding a barspoon revolving in a mixing glass, barely looking at it, tasting it, giving it a small nod of approval and presenting it to a customer. This guy can fix your car whilst making a Zombie or the other way around. He probably wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night looking at 3 Manhattans, 2 Martinis and a Mai Tai.

The menu design was brilliant, based on 60’s pulp comic books with a jungle theme. Every drink also had a ‘jungle fever’ rating, which I assume had something to do with the amount of alcohol in it or the complexity. Every drink in it was invented by a different staffmember, Timo told us and I wonder who came up with the “One Eyed Snake” (interesting garnish by the way).

The first one I ordered was the “ Gimme a Mejiso”, jungle fever 4/10. Nice aroma with the Shiso leaf, a refreshing drink and very welcome in the swealtering heat. A little bit too much dilution to my personal taste, but that’s probably because of the near boiling point temperatures. The moment you put an ice cube in the mixing glass it was reduced to water before it hit the bottom.

Geertrui chose the “Silver Sun” and this one was very good. Rum, ginger, Carpano and Maraschino made for an excellent combination of tastes, the Jerry Thomas bitters married it all together.

IMG_5887
The Silver Sun cocktail – Door 74

Lastly I went for the “No Surrender Mr Onoda”, jungle fever 10/10. Seaweed infused Nikka straight from the barrel, Dabada chestnut Shochu, 15 years old Drambui, sugar syrup and plum bitters. Served in a Japanese tea mug with some seaweed on top and four rocks in the mug to cool down the drink. An interesting and complex drink, not for everybody, but I enjoyed it very much. Timo, you should have told the story of Mr Onoda or put it in the menu. I had to look it up, it’s a good story and inspiration always adds to the taste, I think.

While we were sipping our drinks Timo told us about how much he enjoyed his guestbartending session in Belgium last month in Jiggers and Old Fashioned (in Ghent). He just couldn’t get enough of it and kept going in the Old Fashioned untill 7 o’ clock in the morning.

I’m beginning to suspect that Timo has four arms, but I couldn’t see it in the dark.

After a couple of hours, we took off and made our way back through the pink jungle to our hotel.

Door 74 is an amazing place, great people, good drinks and a must see when you visit Amsterdam.

Next up will be a review of HPS.

Cheers!

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