We catch up with Dennis van Rijswijk – head bartender at Minglemush food hall and bar, situated alongside Den Haag Centraal station – to discover what a long term resident of the city (and top mixologist, naturally!) thinks of the changing bar scene in The Hague.
Describe your venue in one sentence?
Minglemush is a blend of everything that you could want, food from around the world and a unique selection of spirits and cocktails.
How did you come to work in the bar industry?
I came from initially working at the Bel-Air hotel in Den Haag. The bartender that worked there basically quit on the spot and I decided to step up and learn how to be a bartender. Primarily, I have taught myself on the job, I have benefited from working with some really talented bartenders, who taught me a lot. I also had a lifelong love of whisky and beer and bartending has been a great way for me to take things that I already love and make it into my job, so I can easily pursue my passion.
What’s your venue’s most popular cocktail? Why do you think that is?
La La Lychee was the best selling cocktail of 2018. It came to be in an amusing way, I was stood at the bar looking at some bottle that were neglected and I thought to myself, hey, lets give them a new lease of life. We had a few fruit juices and spirits that looked a little lonely, but they really came to life when it was mixed together! I think it sold so well, because it was a fruity, fresh cocktail, absolutely perfect for terrace weather, so it sold like a dream when the sun was shining. Then in the Autumn and the Winter and perhaps our guests just wanted one last taste of Summer.
What are the key drinks trends for 2019?
I find it really hard to imagine that gin and tonics are going to go out of style this year, as there is still so much to be done with the medium. After all, gin is just infused vodka and that gives us an almost limitless amount of possibilities. Our suppliers keep coming to us with evermore interesting tonics as well, so lets see where it takes us! I have also noticed on a personal level that Instagram and Instagrammable drinks tend to sell really well and we often get shown a photo of a cocktail, be it one of ours or something new and be asked if we can make that. I find it interesting how social media is really becoming a form of interactive menu.
As a mixologist, if you could choose one liquor, what would it be and why?
That is a hard question! However, I think I would have to say gin, gin is just so complex and varied, I literally could not write down all the gins I know as there is such a rich and varied selection out there. If we look at the simple gin and tonic, the tonic helps to unleash the botanicals within the gin and on top of that there are just so many tonics out there that there would seem to be a never ending list of combinations. But for me as a person, I simply could not live without Congac.
How has the bar scene in the city changed in recent years? What does the future hold?
Well, Den Haag has changed so much in the last two years. When I worked at Bel-Air, I must say, I didn't really know of a single reliably good cocktail bar. The hotels sometimes would have a good cocktail bar, it depended on their bartenders, but now, they are growing like mushrooms. It is very different now as I can think of several great cocktails bars off the top of my head! For the future, I think it is just gonna be natural selection, some will survive and help The Hague become a well known location for cocktails, as the experience and quality of drinks is impressive for such an emerging scene. But I don't think it is sustainable to have quite so many cocktail bars and I expect that over time, a few will unfortunately have to close.
Other than your own venue, where do you go to drink (and eat) in the city?
I live by the harbour and so my favourite venue by far is 'De Hofnar'. I love the style, it is a classic 'brouwcafe', they have a really fantastic selection of beers and wine. The food is also great! What I love is that it is just a real Den Haag sort of place, they don't mess about, the drinks are great, the food is great and the view is wonderful. You just can't beat sitting by the harbour, the sun on your face and the smell of the sea, with a fine beer in hand.
Have you got a simple trick or tip you can share that will help people make cocktails at home?
Just don't make it too complicated, make sure you have good equipment but most importantly, good products! A good spirit is a good base.
Minglemush food hallen, Anna van Buerenplein 712, 2595 DK Den Haag