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Tess Posthumus: "I know a lot of guy bartenders who are afraid of getting into a fight"

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The Netherlands’ Tess Posthumus – is one of the most famous female bartenders in the world, with numerous awards. Last year, she and her partner opened Flying Dutchmen in Amsterdam. Inshaker quizzed Tess about the way she works, her cocktail book, and what it’s like being a female bartender.

I absolutely love when I can give my guests a new experience: tell them what they didn’t know, or let them try an ingredient they’ve never seen before. I feel a great joy every time this happens. 

I take what I do very seriously. I’m not against having fun at work - a bar should be fun, after all. But if we aren’t serious, the fun ends very quickly.

I prefer hiring people without experience, because we devote a lot of attention to training. Every three weeks, we organize a big training session for all of our employees. The only thing we can’t teach is sincere hospitality.

I really want there to be more and more female bartenders in the future. I’m really proud of the fact that women and men are equal at our bar. 

To this day, I encounter people with strange reactions to me. For example, I might not be invited to a whisky tasting just because I’m a woman, and whisky is traditionally a “man’s drink.” Another stereotype is that it’s dangerous to have a woman working behind the bar, because you never know what a drunk guest will try. But I know a lot of guy bartenders who are afraid of getting into a fight. For all that, they’re still great bartenders. I believe that all bartenders, regardless of gender, should take safety training - that’s it.

Cocktails are an endless world. For example, I can spend several hours just talking about ice.

I don’t believe in garnishes and decoration, if they don’t have any purpose other than decoration. Cocktails are abou taste first and foremost. 

I prefer classic cocktails. I think that the majority of people haven’t tried a proper daiquiri, and few bartenders now are capable of truly making the classics. Before you come up with crazy combinations, it’s important to know the basics. 

I’m really proud of the cocktail book I wrote. It’s meant for beginner bartenders and regular cocktail lovers. The majority of people think that making cocktails is hard, time-consuming and expensive. I want to prove to everyone the opposite - it’s simple and fun.

I actually think that people don’t go to bars for the alcohol. Drinks are just an excuse. They come for the atmosphere and to enjoy the company or other people. 

It’s not important to me to be the best – what’s important is to do something good for myself and for others. I played hockey for a long time on the absolute worst team in the league! And it was great! 

I never get mad at my guests. I’m convinced that kindness is disarming.

 

Photo: Kaan Sensoy

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