Philip Duff has served as Tales of The Cocktail’s Director of Education for the past six years. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is an non-profit organization which is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make lasting impact in communities that host their events.
Each year the international bar and spirits industry is welcomed to New Orleans for a week of seminars, tastings, networking and special events. With hundreds of opportunities developed specifically for bartenders, distillers and other bar and spirits professionals, Tales of the Cocktail is the industry’s annual meeting place for the exchanging of new ideas, products and techniques.
He is stepping down as director of education at the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation to spend more time working on his Old Duff Genever brand, on his Liquid Solutions on-trade education agency, and not least with his wife and step-daughter. He told us some interesting things on Bar Convent Berlin in Germany, enjoy!
Tell us few things you want to say about yourself important for our readers!
I’m an old bartender, and now I get to spend my time teaching, learning and sharing my knowledge and indeed, managing teams of people who do the same. Particulary, with the Tales of the cocktail we want to share the knowledge that’s not on Google. The knowledge we share is based on our own experience so that all of us can learn to get better and quicker.
What about your experience in hospitality before 10 years and now?
I started bartending when I was 15. I bartended full time, non-stop in my own Dublin, London, Cayman Islands, New York… Now I’m living in Holland for 17 years. I’m founder od Door 74, the first speakeasy in Holland ever, the first bar to be “World’s 50 best bars” from Holland. Now I’m fully dedicated on training and teaching. This is 3 weeks trip now, right now is week 2 and we are in country number 7. So what else to say? (ha-ha)
What do you think about the new trends in bartending? A lot of social media, instagram… What do you think about it?
It is always a popularity contest, but what I really like is that we are beginning to really talk about service and society. We start to think about sustainability, safety, being inclusive, about rights for people who are maybe not heterosexual, homosexual, transgender or no gender… Everybody is welcome at the bar. Those trends really fill me with joy. That we are at that stage.
What about such a crazy boom of gin?
I don’t think this is gonna stop. The USA has not even starting to make them, China and Japan are waking up to them, my own country Ireland is having a “gin move”. There is a gin move in South Africa. So this is not going away. This is a gin time, like whiskey time was in the 1880’s.
What’s your opinion about craft gin? Prices are going really high.
We don’t have enough distilling skills so a lot of people are teaching themselves to destill gin. Gin requires some skills so there are gins out there that I don’t think are very well made. Just because it’s craft doesn’t mean it’s good. If you ask Desmond Payne, he made fuc**** craft gin. Because he did. Craft is about the knowledge and the skill. Just a care is not enough.
How come you decided to distill Genever?
I’m living in Holland for 17 years, I have a dutch wife, a business there… So I knew about Genever like real Genever, not just the information most people have which is someways incomplete or incorrect. I wanted to bring proper Genever back. I knew the destilleries. Instead of making one more gin, tequila or even one more whiskey (which would make sence for an Irish guy), I made a Genever.
But you’re producing it by yourself?
It’s made by a family destillery in Holland that have been destilling Genever since 1777. They are absolute experts. They made my Old Duff Genever and I could not have a better producer. It’s one of the only Genevers you will ever try that says made in Holland that is actually made in Holland. Plus, I think it taste quite nice.
It’s your recipe?
Yes, we developed together, recording to my specifications. We wanted to meticulously distilled multi-grain distillate, with a good bit of rye, that is sparingly flavoured with small amounts of juniper and a small number of other botanicals.
In past few years there was a lot of german bars on the list “World’s 50 best bars”, now are only two. What happened to them? What do you think about the list of top 50?
To get in top 50 now you have to make noise. It doesn’t just happen. It’s not just like: “Oh! I am world’s 50 best bar.” Now you have to want it, bang the drum, make the noise, be on instagram, do the pop-up. Maybe the german bars are not doing that much. But also maybe they are still moving fine and it’s just the rest of the world moving faster. Who knows!
What is your favourite cocktail?
I love martinies. I adore Clubland cocktail from the Café Royal Cocktail Book in 1937. It’s a half martini and half vodka. I love martinies with Genever, Manhattan with right whiskey, Margarita…
How do you keep on doing great job?
Every year we have to force ourselves to be better, make better seminars, better events, engage more judges. We are very aware that the industry is changing, so we need to support it.
What is your advice for young bartenders?
Study as much as you can, make sure to study in the real world as well as online. Sometimes you need to get a job in the bar, work there for at least one year, just to learn and study the things you cannot learn online. Travel as much as you can, while you can.
Thank you very much Philip, it was a pleasure!
Pleasure was mine!