Old Duff during Quarantine

Libbey’s industry friend Philip Duff chatted with us about lockdown in NYC, his road to success, favorite drinks and some future insights.

1. How do you introduce yourself at barshows?

What are barshows? Just kidding! Well, if I’m speaking at a barshow, I usually refer to my background in bartending, managing and owning bars, my current job helping liquor brands communicate better with the on-trade, and the brand I founded, Old Duff Genever. Short version: bartender, consultant, brand owner.

2. How did you spend the quarantine?

Still deep in it here in Manhattan as I write! Myself and my wife just didn’t go outside at all for the first 6-7 weeks, and since then ride bikes in Central Park once or twice a week. Slept in every day – no alarm clock! – wrote two education programs for clients, created a program for bartenders to create cocktails on video for another client, was interviewed a lot on Facebook and Instagram, started drinking lunchtime martinis, tried to support bars by ordering delivery & takeout cocktails, buying gift cards and donating to relief funds. Oh, and I was more diligent about my daily Duolingo in Spanish, and I started watching the Sopranos again from episode 1!

3. Who is the person that inspired you the most to join the drinks business?

Probably John Nealon, who gave me my first bar job in my hometown; he created this stylish, glamourous place in a tiny town and immediately I saw that world I wanted more.

4. Best cocktail book written?

Meehan’s Manual

5. The book you would read over and over again.

Creole Belle, or anything else by James Lee Burke.

6. Which cocktail (you created) are you most proud of?

I’ll get hauled before the Mixology Tribunal of the International Criminal Court in the Hague for this one, but I’m happy to still see the Vanilla Berry Capirinha on menus in Holland – last time I saw it on a menu was at Schiphol airport.

7. Which cocktail is the one you have made the most during the years?

Probably neck-and-neck between martinis and Martinezs, with manhattans a close third.

8. What’s your favorite classic cocktail?

Martinez, no question

9. The most underestimated drink in the industry?

Probably the Collins; I didn’t like it much either until I learned it was originally made with genever, which makes it transcendent.

10. Which ingredient will be used far more in the future?

Honkaku shochu, and baijiu.

11. As Nolo, classic cocktails, simple serves were trending, what do you think will be the next trend?

Zero-waste for sure, especially with products like SupaSawa which mean you don’t need the carbon footprint or eco-waste associated with fresh citrus.

12. Favorite glass shape to drink from? And Why?

A stemmed 4oz martini glass, but it has straight “walls”, not angled like the Art Deco V-shaped cocktail glass’ a bit like some of Libbey’s Acopa glasses. I’ll drink fine whiskey from a pint glass, though, if that’s the only glass available!

13. Why is the glass that important for a drink?

The glass consitutes a major part of the apparance of a drink, which is the first “taste’! It also plays a role in the actual quality of the drink, keeping it cold (or hot, depending on the glass) to the end.

14. Glass: Durable or Fragile?

Durable – our glasses get a lot of use so they need to be dishwasher-friendly!

15. Which bar did you miss the most during lock-down?

Probably the NoMad and The Dead Rabbit, both of which I’m well-known for frequenting.

16. What would be the first restaurant you will go to after the lock-down?

Ooooooh! Hadn’t even thought about The Outside World. Probably somewhere local just to start with, ansd also because I don’t think I’ll use public transport just yet or get a taxi: I love El Paso Restaurante near 103rd St in Harlem, close to where I live.

17. What would be the first destination you fly to?

A client is trying to still hold their global bar contest in 2020, so it might be Moscow!

18. What will be the one major change in the Hospitality, after the pandemic?

God, where to start? The single largest change will be that the entire central paradigm of hospitality – being in close contact with other, random people in an enclosed space – is now taboo, and both operators and brands will have to come up with ways both acknowledge and move past that, while still running a profitable business.

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