Our next guest in the FAST 10 section is Philip Duff, a world-renowned bartender and a very famous person in the global drink industry. He is an expert in distilled products, a famous speaker, consultant, educator, and owns his own brand of beverages – Old Duff Genever. We spoke with Philip at the Convent Bar Berlin.
In an interview, Mr. Duff revealed to us the answers to very interesting questions, both about the industry and his private preferences.
Which period in the cocktail industry is your favorite?
“I think it’s probably the 1860s. The world was rich, Jerry Thomas had published his book, people were drinking incredible cocktails with spices and garnishes. I would like to go back and see Jerry at the bar of Metropolit Hotel or Mr. Wheeler, Harry Johnson or one of those people.”
Neat spirit or cocktails?
“If I have to choose, it’s cocktails.”
You’ve entered the top 50 bars in the world with Door 74. What is your advice on how to enter the top 50 bars in the world?
“It changes every year and it gets so hard. You have to travel, do pop-ups, host pop-ups, shake hands, kiss babies, go to bar shows, mail menus… My advice is, obviously, not to do that. It’s so much effort, but if you’re already taking care of your customers, and it’s something you want to do, make a plan, really make a business plan and don’t sleep until you break into the top 50.”
Shochu, gin, genever and rum master, how come the rum is the only dark spirit that you mastered?
“You know, I never thought about that. Honestly, I’m also pretty expert in whiskey as well. That list of spirits reflects what I’ve been doing in the last four or five years. So, so much more shochu and relatively little whiskey, but I will be doing a lot more Irish Single Malts and Blend trainings next year as well. But yeah, I guess it’s a nice thing, rum is always made in sunny places and whiskey is usually made in cold places. So, if I have to choose…”
Old Duff Genever and the future of the Genever category in the bar industry?
“I hope that Genever will be one of those things, somewhere between whiskey and mezcal and i’ts cool and interesting, and you do different things, like with mezcal, but you have so much history and heritage to fall back on, as a spirit, as a cocktail ingrediant, the original martinez… I just want to get a bottle of a real Dutch genever, maybe Old Duff on the back bar of every good bar in the world.”
New spirits trends in the near future?
“Everyone talks about no alcohol, but low alcohol is definitely a thing… 20%, 15%, maybe even 5% or 10%. Many, many more, let’s say non-denominated spirits, so Agave Spirits that are not tequila or meszcal, bacanora, sotol, whiskey from nontraditional countries and, still, we are not finished with gin, not by a long way.”
Rum as a new flagship in the bars regarding the gin era?
“That’s what everyone wants. We always say that rum’s time is coming, but we never know exactly when. There is no reason why not and there’s much more funky High Ester interesting rums coming out now and people are even growing around sugarcane and making rum from it. So it really is a very exciting time for rum… There is a chance, of course.”
What do you think about spiced rums?
“Captain Morgan will outsell Bacardi in four to five years. So, spiced rums rule the world and the modern ones, I think, are all excellent. They’re all around 40%, very low or no sugar, some powerful botanical choices, not just vanilla, so spiced rum may be a big part of rums future.”
What is the first must impression when you enter the bar? What is the impression that you want to feel when you enter the bar, and you feel that this is THE bar?
“Welcome and for me of course, I’d like to look at the bar and see in the moment a staff or professional, their selection is large, the service is good, the glasses are clean and tidy… Take it all in the moment and you realize „This is the right place“.
Now, the question that we always have to ask the big bartenders with a knowledge: What is the difference between a bartender and mixologist?
“That’s the easiest question… Mixologist makes cocktails and bartenders serves people. You can be a mixologist but not a bartender, and you can be a bartender but not a mixologist. Altough, the best bartenders, of course, are both. Bartending involves hard work as well, and involves preparation. You can be a mixologist and make a cocktail for one person, but a bartender must make them for 100 people and be the host and be the financial manager and be the creative director. This is an easy choice to me.”
We would like to thank Mr. Duff for participating in the interview and wish him all the best.