Tess Says: Minimalism vs Variety

24 February, 2022

The Scandinavian chic approach has had a huge influence on the modern bar scene. Thin glassware, no garnishes and plain interiors have become the norm for a lot of top bars around the world and to fit this aesthetic many have reduced their spirits offering.

A minimalist selection of spirits definitely fits the Scandi vibe and it can look great, but it comes with its own limitations. Of course, some conceptual bars pull it off well and can get away with a niche offering, but variety in bars is important. 

I often compare the bar industry to restaurants. In every city there should be a range of cuisines to try and the same goes for bars – there should be specialist venues offering a certain style of drink. 

Dutch Courage is our latest venue in Amsterdam, which has more than 150 brands of genever. I think when people visit a category-specific bar they want a wide selection, particularly the geeks, rather than just a handful – even if they’re some of the very best available. But at the same time we recognise that not everyone will want a genever-based drink, so having a big back bar means we can stock a few other spirits to cover all basis. 

At the other end of the spectrum from the category-focused venues are the classic, traditional-style cocktail bars. To me these are the equivalent of your favourite reliable bistros where you can guarantee a good steak. 

In my opinion, to effectively make good classics you need a wide selection of spirits. Many classics only use a few ingredients and therefore it’s the spirit which pulls the drink in different directions. At the Flying Dutchmen we focus on classics and therefore have the biggest spirits selection in the Netherlands – more than 900 bottles to be precise. But we don’t have this many just for the sake of it, we’re constantly rotating the stock to keep it fresh and evolve with different trends and styles. But I don’t think the minimal approach is going away anytime soon. Consumers still love the Scandi style and we’ve basically had a two-year pause during the pandemic. 

Therefore we’re likely to see this approach stick around a while longer, while reliable bistros like Flying Dutchmen will hopefully be favoured long into the future.

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