Words by: Tim Lefevre/Timo Janse
In this edition of Ten Tough Questions we talk to Tim Lefevre, Bar manager at legendary speakeasy bar Door 74.
Belgian born and raised, 25y old soul, been living in Amsterdam for three years. Living life to the fullest every day. Never says no to a well-prepared Manhattan.
What is the nicest moment behind the bar you can remember?
"First New Year’s Eve I worked at Door 74. We had a nice dinner with the team before the shift and everyone was completely on point throughout the whole night. We ended up being completely full of people having an amazing time and staying from beginning till end. This was also a point where I realized I was in the right spot and was extremely excited about the upcoming year.
However I can get just a much pleasure from more quiet nights, where you really get the chance to interact with guests and have good conversations while making them drinks they love."
What is the worst?
"At an old job, I once had a very drunk man come in, and smash a bottle into a pile of glasses. Glass was scattered all over the place.
We ended up giving him the benefit of the doubt, and sat him down, to try and sober him up. After 10 minutes, we saw he wasn’t getting sober at all. He was actually drinking from a bottle in his backpack., using the backpack as a paper bag to “hide” the bottle. He also started harassing women. At that point, we had to kick him out. He tried to swing and missed. Actually had to force him out.
So annoying when people think they can just act out, because there in a bar, and end up ruining other people’s night."
Who are the two Guru’s you look up to the most in our industry?
"Remy Savage was my very first introduction to what is possible within bartending, when I accidentally saw his instagram profile come by. This was a turning point in my life when I decided I wanted to be part of this little bartending world. One of the biggest compliments I’ve received until now still, was him telling me at a competition that he’d love to sit at my bar all night, because he felt I had a sincere heart for hospitality.
Not because he pays me, but my boss Sergej Fokke, who likes to refer to himself as the dinosaur of bartending in The Netherlands. He basically showed me what hospitality should be like and completely reformed the image I had of it. Constantly kicking my ass to make sure that I stay humble, while giving me everything I want (not always as easy) and providing me with every opportunity I need to become a better person within this industry."
Which book on bartending is a must-read?
“The Joy of Mixology” by Gary Regan was the very first book I ever read and a book I advice everyone that asks me this question. I guess that’s what 9 out of 10 people will say, however, “Joy” is a very important word in this title for me!
“Meehan’s Bartender’s Manual” by Jim Meehan took it to another level for me. Such a complete read and beautiful book."
What is the cocktail you have created you are most proud of and why?
"There’s quite a few drinks I’m pretty happy about. If I’d have to pick one, it might be one from our “New Orleans”-menu at Door 74, called the “Sky Father”. I took this drink with me to guest shifts in Mondriaan Bar, Moscow and El Copitas, St. Petersburg. It’s a very easy drink with a lot going on and a lot of complexity!
20ml passionfruit-habanero syrup
10ml Fernet Branca
Shake, fine strain into a coupe
Or maybe the drink with which I won the first Dutch Teeling competition! Just because of it’s simplicity. Curious?
What is the biggest challenge facing our industry in the Netherlands today?
"People being afraid to talk about how they feel. I feel like we live in a society where it is very normal to work way more than our bodies can actually handle. There’s obviously a big realization going on now, where we start to realize how unhealthy our lifestyles can be and some really great organizations that work very hard to improve this.
However, I feel like a lot of people hide the fact that it can be hard on them. So whenever you ask someone how they’re doing, their automatic reply will be “I’m okay”, even when they’re not. So one of the biggest challenges I think, is being able to tell people when you’re not doing good, and talk to each other about this. If we can ask any guest how they’re doing and genuinely be interested in that, we should be able to ask ourselves the same question. Selfcare is incredibly underestimated."
What is your guilty pleasure drink?
"I always thought it was Pina Coladas, but then I realized EVERYONE loves them, so are they really a guilty pleasure anymore?
Also, good old whiskey-coke and Jagershots."
If you could teach new bartenders one thing, what would it be?
"It feels very weird to answer this question, as I totally consider myself to be “a new bartender”. However if there’s one thing I love and wouldn’t mind seeing all the time, it would be love towards people and towards being genuinely hospitable. Treat people the way you’d like to be treated and never be afraid or too lazy to go that extra mile for someone. Remember, going out to bars is a luxury. You can have any drink you want at home, but people go out because they want an experience. Do whatever you can to make that experience memorable."
What do i have to do as a bartender to piss you off when visiting a bar?
"Be rude. To me but even more to my colleagues or other people. I’ve been raised to always be polite, no matter what happens. My parents always taught me that with a polite word in your hand you can cross the whole land (such a literal translation, haha). When people are ignorant and rude, it really bothers me, especially if it offends people I love.
Or taking a drink of a driprail before it’s finished. Massive pet peeve!"
If you want to be remembered by any quote, what would it be?
“I love Bloody Mary’s in the afternoon. They help me cope with the three gin martini’s I had for lunch.”