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It’s no easy feat to gather a large group of bartenders; they’re notorious for long ungodly working hours and unpunctuality- but gather they did. Gezellig-ly all together on the boat, packed with some of the Netherlands finest cocktail shaking talent… and a hell of a lot of alcohol.
The reason for such a get-together? A reunion! Marking a year since the birth of something exciting in the world of cocktails; the ideation of founders Tom de Jong (Havana club brand ambassador), Danil Nevsky (Havana Club Dutch Champion 2014), Niels van Wouwe and Leroy Soumokil: Club De Cantineros Netherlands.
Cuban cigar and rum pairing
The original club began in Cuba of handpicked bartending talent, during the American prohibition era, to propagate exceptional industry knowledge, finesse in bartending and fairer working conditions. It went on to greatly influence bartenders globally. The Club proudly lives by the ethos ‘for bartenders by bartenders’, striving to elevate and celebrate cocktail skill, recipes and service.
One Cuban writer described Cantinero’s (Cuban bartenders) in their prime as ‘Virtuous, elegant and the ultimate hosts’. Those characteristics were evident to us. The boat pulled into Waterkant with proud cigar-clad founders atop and Amsterdam’s own ‘Mojito Man’ whipping up authentic Cuban mojitos. If that isn’t an epic start to a great get-together, I’m not sure what is. All on board, the collective of bartenders did what bartenders do best, drink, be merry and discuss beautifully aged Havana rum over cigars. The atmosphere buzzed and I was introduced to the artfulness of Cuban cigar and rum pairing.
The essence of the club is to bring together connoisseurs, enthusiasts and highly professional people within their craft to share knowledge, impart passion and learn new philosophies.
Virtuous hosting continued from the boat into a cavernous room at Pllek, where the whir of mixers could be heard. Daiquiri time. As I sat, well sprawled, on a beanbag, I viewed the scene: the coming together of some of most creative and enthusiastic bartenders, over a presentation enlightening the history and goals to come of the Club. Some were old friends, some new acquaintances, but in everyone there was a sense of prowess in being part of an innovative new collective.
The revival of the legacy is a reason to revere and revel in the profession of bartending. It’s an exciting road ahead for the Dutch cocktail scene – Up next is a Cuban soirée Open Day (tomorrow), which will be an opportunity to welcome new members. So get on board if bartending is your thing!
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