Ten Tough questions for Allan Brown
Words by Timo Janse & Allan Brown
Photography by Presstigieux
We talk to Allan Brown, considered by many as one of the nicest in the industry, and ask him those Ten Tough questions!
Born and raised on the island of Aruba; a place many people call paradise and I call come.
Living for the past 10 years here in Rotterdam. 29 years of age and bartender at the Mad Mick's Breakaway café.
A person that’s humble and live by the rule of treating others how you would like to be treaded.
What is the nicest moment behind the you can remember?
"Friends and colleagues surprising me at the start of my shift with a prize, when i won the nicest bartender of Rotterdam by Indebuurt. "
What is the worst?
"A discussion with a guest about the bill that turned into an argument and I almost got punched that day."
Who are the guru’s you look up to the most in our industry?
"of course my good friend and manager Rick de Groot and on an international level Moe Aljaff and AJ White from Two Smucks, Barcelona.
I love the story behind the bar, two friends that came up with the idea of starting their own bar and went all-in on this dream without seeing the flop.
A place what looks like a neighborhood dive bar from the outside but delivers 5 star service and cocktail experience.
Then to achieve a spot on the list of the world’s best bars within such short period of time. With a budget of 45.000 euro’s and no investors man, that takes steel balls, that called changing the game and I respect admire that.
Which book on bartending is a must-read?
"For the new bartenders a must read is “The Bar Book” by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, follow by a book about spirit knowledge. Like “Spirit Distilled” by Mark Ridgwell. I think understanding and knowing your spirits is key.
Just like chefs start with the mother sauces as a base for all of their sauces. In the bartending world our mother sauces are the spirits and this is our base for all our cocktails.
And don’t stop at cocktail books dive in to some cooking books to for example a good one to have is “The flavor thesaurus” by Niki Segnit I use this book more like an encyclopedia when it comes to creating new flavor combinations for my cocktails. "
What is the cocktail you have created are most proud of and why?
"I’m proud of all of my cocktails but the ones I’m most proud of are
“Hero Jan & Grietje” my take on an old dutch tradition the “Kopstoot” and of course “My Way” my winning cocktail of the Sir Edmond gin & sound competition.
A cocktail as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. The reason why I’m so proud of these cocktails are not because of the flavors but because of the story behind them and the experience that I try to recreate for the guest while their consuming these drinks."
What is the biggest challenge facing our industry in the Netherlands today?
"I think we as people from the hospitality industry should be more aware of our own health. We tend to drink more than people from other industries, we work long hours sometimes more than 10 hours a day, most of the times we don’t consume the proper nutrition that’s needed.
Lately the industry is focusing on developing amazing sustainable bar programs.
Which is really a good thing but I think we should care as much about ourselves as we care about the footprint that our industry is leaving behind on the world.
What is your guilty pleasure drink?
blended creamers baby! for example a Camaretto shake I would never order one at a bar and they are not my favorite cocktails to make but when I make them I often do a little over pore just so I could have little a sip for myself.
If you could teach new bartenders one thing, what would it be?
"Start asking why?
Everything that’s done behind the bar has reason and propose and understanding this will make you a better and smarter bartender. From why do you throw a cocktail instead of shaking or stirring it, why do you serve a cocktail with so many ice, to why do bartenders serve rum and coke with a lime? "
What do you have to do as a bartender to piss you off when visiting a bar?
Not only bartenders pisses me off when they do this but just guests in general.
When it’s packed and someone is whistling, screaming or snapping their fingers to me.
And when you are finally there to take their order, they tell me "rum and coke" and then look to their friends and ask them what do you want to drink.
Quick lesson on bar drinking etiquette 101, rule #1 remember the bartender is not an animal so there is no need for snapping fingers, whistling or yelling.
Rule #2 if it’s busy make sure before you get the bartenders attention you know what you and your whole entourage wants to drink.
If you want to be remembered by any quote, what would it be?
"I think that would be: “You can fail at what you don’t like doing, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love”. Don’t do what others say is best for you do what you think is right for you.
I believe if you are passionate about what you do and genuinely put your heart into it.
You will do everything to succeed and make it happen, you would put time, money and effort and you would go the extra mile. And that extra mile right there will distinguish you from the rest and make you successful and happy."