Michael Ziengs is owner of The Five Points bar and drinking society in Korte Houtstraat, The Hague. One of the most influential bartenders in the city, Michael shares how he has adapted his business for the current lockdown and the difficulties that the wider hospitality industry is facing in the coming months.
What was the immediate impact of the lockdown on bars?
It had already had an impact before we entered into lockdown. Two weeks before, we already saw less people coming to the bar and on the streets. I think the lockdown was a good thing to do for a few weeks, but it has been going on for too long now. I think the right question should be, what has been the impact on people...?
What have you done to adapt to not being able to trade from your venue?
For delivery, we started doing the First Aid Cocktail Kit with a tasting from our current menu. That went really well for a few weeks. Then we started seeing other bars doing delivery as well and we decided to make it more of an experience for the people that order, just as we do at our bar. Now we've made a whole new menu so people can choose from three drinks – and add more if they choose – for their First Aid Cocktail Kit. It contains everything you need to enjoy drinks at home. All drinks are freshly made and only need to be garnished.
What does the First Aid box consist of?
The First Aid Cocktail Kit contains a selection of three drinks that you can choose yourself from our delivery menu, that itself features a choice of eight drinks from four different base spirit categories.
The cocktail kit cost you €37,50 including delivery, ice, garnish and some cool extras that you get from us. We also serve a Pornstar Martini in a jar and a bottle of Bloody Mary for €31,50 each.
You are working collaboratively with restaurants?
We are working together with Bar Pêche from Foodhallen The Hague. They serve the best oysters in town and we think its a great combination together with our Bloody Mary. I think we should all support each other in any kind of way. It benefits both parties especially when you are small business owners like us.
We may be in lockdown for several more months – followed by ongoing social distancing rules –, how do you think the bar scene will further adapt?
I don’t really see that working to be honest. We definitely need to step up and explain to the government that this cannot continue for much longer. I understand that measurements had to be taken, but in the long run this will be devastating for small business owners and hospitality in general. I think we also need to be creative and try and deal with the situation as best as we can, but don’t accept everything that the government is telling us in terms of what to do. We do need to raise our voice and talk with other people on how we are going proceed from this point onwards.
Can you share a simple cocktail that people can make at home using produce from supermarkets/liquor stores…
The sun is coming out a lot so I think that the best thing to make is a lovely Pimm’s Cup! This drink is mostly enjoyed in England to celebrate sunny days. It’s very easy to make and it is a great sharing drink.
1 bottle of Pimm’s
1 litre of lemonade (sprite)
1 lemon in slices
Half a cucumber in slices
Lots of ice
Add all these ingredients in one big jug and serve this to your friends, remembering social distancing rules!