The Making of a Mixologist: Amsterdam, Door 74, & Tess Posthumus
I must confess, before Door 74 in Amsterdam, I was not big into cocktails. I was more of a beer and wine guy, and of course champagne, but as for the cocktail culture, it had yet to penetrate my psyche. That all changed after Door 74. Swanky. Sophisticated. Upscale yet casual. Most of the people there were sharply dressed—the men in suits or jackets and ties, the women in sexy dresses and heels. It was already after midnight and the place was packed, and my pal Jack Morgan and I sat at the bar and became fast friends with the lovely bartender named Tess. And the more I watched Tess in action, the more I realized that she was a drink-making virtuosa. She took genuine delight in creating the perfect cocktail for each one of her guests. In fact, being a writer, I began to wax poetic, like, “I'll give you three words and you’ll create a drink to fit those words.” She smiled and agreed. Desultory, far-off, sad. A few minutes later, a drink appeared that captured the essence of those words. Raw, adventurous, wanderlust. Another creation, another bull’s eye. Introspective, private, serene. Beautiful. Each drink created especially for me, inspired by my words, and each drink, delicious. And Jack and I would look at each other and say, “Taste this, man! It’s amazing!” As the evening progressed, I realized that a well-made cocktail was truly one of humanity’s great inventions. It was art and beauty and science even, as the delicate balance of flavors must be achieved. And as a rather cool ancillary benefit, there’s all that alcohol!
The following summer, I invented my first cocktail called "The Deep Kiss", and since then almost four years later, I have over 200 original creations. I've become a regular at the local liquor stores, always on the lookout for something new, exciting, and exotic. My cart at the supermarket is often filled with lemons and limes, tonic water, club soda, and anything else that might work in a cocktail, as I see everything now through a mixologist's eyes; how the different ingredients all work together like the notes and chords of a piece of music. Harmonious, complex, surprising, delectable.
Since that night at The Door, I have been fortunate to have become friends with Tess Posthumus, my mixology mentor. And when I send her a new recipe, she always writes back with an encouraging comment and sometimes a suggestion, which to me is like Larry Bird giving me tips on my jump shot! She has inspired this new direction my life has taken, and this website and Kevin's Cocktail Compendium are dedicated to her and Door 74, with love and boundless affection. Cheers! Hartelijk bedankt!
Tess Posthumus from Door 74, in action! Tell her Kevin sent you...
The above is an excerpt (amended) from my memoir: TALES OF INSOMNIA DESPAIR & THE PERFECT COCKTAIL