Anvil owner/founder/bartender/barback Bobby Heugel had been lobbying on genever's behalf for some time, and both he and brand ambassador Jacob Grier wanted to make sure that attendees got the full first impression. So, they mixed up seven cocktails in two hours.
Genever is its own liquor category — something I was entirely unfamiliar with prior to the event. The Dutch-created predecessor to gin, genever is a malt wine-based spirit flavored with juniper and other botanicals including ginger, aniseed and hops. It's best understood as existing somewhere between whiskey and gin; if gin is flavored vodka, then genever is flavored whiskey.
Grier says genever outsells vodka six to one in Holland, and as one of the original spirits spotlighted in Jerry Thomas' 1862 mixology bible The Bartender's Guide: How to Mix Drinks, it's easy to see why classic cocktail bars are excited to have genever on-hand to recreate original iterations of such cocktails as the Holland House and the Collins.
Coincidentally, it was the Collins that topped our list of genever-based cocktails, although a genever-based take on the Dark 'N Stormy with black Cruzan rum and ginger beer was also stellar. But the highlight for pure showmanship was the kopstootje, or "little head butt," a traditional Dutch style of enjoying genever that involves an overflowing tulip glass of pure genever, a small glass of pilsner and an awkward bend at the waist so as not to spill. It's the sight of a long line of drinkers bending daintily over the bar to slurp a shot out of a tulip glass that gives the method its name.
You can find Bols Genever, one of the few and highest-quality brands available in the United States, on the shelf at Anvil and at Spec's for $27.87 for 750 mL or $35.79 for a liter.