Cocktails and dreams: how to turn a negative situation into a creative opportunity

4 November, 2020
  • 3 min read
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Since graduating from Hotelschool The Hague, Jan Dirk Heijser van Reenen always worked in hospitality most recently as a restaurant manager and an operational manager. However, when his last employer ended his contract as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak, he knew this was a chance to turn a negative experience into a positive one and in his own words “put your money where your mouth is and chase your dream”.

Combining a talent for creativity and a passion for flavours
In this case, the dream was a full-service cocktail creative agency. During his student days at Hotelschool The Hague, Jan Dirk met a co-student who was working with cocktails. This was his first step in the journey of stunning spirits, flavours, beautiful products and the world of cocktails and bartending. “Bartending gave me a way to combine my creativity and passion for flavour combinations at the same time. The result is creating visually appealing, awesome tasting and conceptual drinks.”

When COVID-19 started, Jan Dirk observed bars and restaurants dealing with the loss of income by selling pre-mixed cocktails in a bottle. His own interpretation on this went further and was based on the concept of a meal box which includes fresh ingredients and a recipe, all delivered right to your door. Jan Dirk went for the full experience rather than just the cocktail. In his J.D. Cocktailbox, every product is vacuum-packed and includes homemade syrups, a cocktail shaker and professional instruction video’s on how to make the cocktails.

“In the beginning, I thought I would make a couple of boxes on Friday and deliver them on Saturday. But when I launched the “Experience” a.k.a. J.D. Cocktailbox I was sold out within 24 hours!”

Guests reactions have been extremely positive. Seeing peoples’ excitement and pride in the cocktails they make is what drives Jan Dirk to keep going. His goal is to get people (more) in touch with quality cocktails and the whole experience that comes with it. If they also have a nice evening and activity together (online) as well, that’s even better. 

Staying focussed and selling your expertise
Making future plans is difficult because of the uncertainty and of course, government measures have a huge influence on the sector. This doesn’t deter JD Hospitality to keep thinking about avenues to explore. As soon as the situation allows it, they intend to continue catering to events and parties and provide workshops (for example at bachelor parties), most importantly adding value and facilitating experiences at these events. They will also continue services for bars and restaurants; training personnel and developing cocktail menus for businesses. More immediate plans are the Cocktail Box for Christmas (check out the video! – Dutch only) You can have a look at the JD Hospitality website and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Does Jan Dirk have any advice to students at the beginning of their professional career?

“It’s better to regret the things you did, than the things you did not do. Go for it and seize your opportunity!”

About the author

Hotelschool The Hague

Hotelschool The Hague was founded and funded in 1929 by the hospitality industry to create a central place where industry partners could gain and share new insight, skills and knowledge. Since its foundation, Hotelschool The Hague has become an international hospitality business school specialised in hospitality management, offering a 4-year Bachelor in Hospitality Management. This degree course is also available as the accelerated International Fast Track programme. Our 13-month MBA in Hospitality Management is designed to deliver the next generation of hospitality innovators.

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