Scottish-Dutch national Lewis McKenzie puts his heart and soul into his job as the Bar Manager at the Axis Lobby & Cocktail Bar in the Hilton. He and his team introduced a new cocktail menu in February this year. He is really excited about it, and they won't be seeing him back in Scotland any time soon.
Lewis McKenzie grew up in the Netherlands until the age of 10, when he left for Glasgow to go to school and study in higher education. 'That took a bit of getting used to, because the Scottish school system is quite different to the one we have here in the Netherlands. Having said that, I did discover my love of hospitality in Scotland, and that's where I decided to make it my profession too.'
He worked in various cocktail bars in Glasgow before landing a job at Hilton Glasgow, where his career really started to take off. He worked there for three years, finally reaching the position of supervisor. At the time, his plan was to broaden his horizons with a move to Barcelona. Unfortunately, after living in Scotland for more than 17 years, Lewis’ plans to relocate to Barcelona were put on hold when his father – who lives in Rotterdam – became ill; Lewis returned to the Netherlands to care for him.
It seemed like fate when the position of Bar Manager at Hilton Schiphol opened up soon afterwards. Lewis applied for the position at the prize-winning Axis bar and got the job, which he started in February 2017, and he loves it. Lewis says that he has a fantastic job, in a wonderful location and with great colleagues. 'I really enjoy the international atmosphere. Our guests come from every corner of the world, but most of them are from Europe, the Middle East and America.'
The transition from Glasgow back to the Netherlands went without a hitch. 'I think that there are quite a few similarities between the Scots and the Dutch, since both are hospitable, friendly and enjoy a good laugh. I don't see myself leaving here any time soon.’
Fortunately, his father is better now and Lewis has more time for hobbies like football and golf. Even so, work is very much his priority. He and his team have invested a lot of time and energy into coming up with a new cocktail concept in recent months. Although it is still very much a work in progress, he is willing to give a hint of what guests can expect. 'We literally took our inspiration from the airport and travel. The menu looks like a passport and, besides listing our cocktails, explains the story behind them, with the emphasis on gin and Dutch gin, both of which are local products. We feel that it is important to tell the story behind the product. The menu includes seven cocktails that use gin or Dutch gin as their base, and it also features a number of wines, coffee and snacks, of course.'
The Axis Bar welcomes guests other than travellers too. It regularly hosts the @ Ginius Afterwork network meeting, which consists of a number of pop-up bars. This event is organised in collaboration with suppliers and other businesses. These meetings are aimed specifically at people who work at Schiphol, to give them an opportunity to catch up with each other, share knowledge and also enjoy all of the delicious products that Axis has to offer.
When asked if he would like to share one of his favourite cocktail recipes with the readers of schipholspot.nl, Lewis indicated that he definitely would. Here it comes, cocktail lovers! This is how to make a Dark&Stormy. Cheers!
Dark & Stormy
Put some ice in a tall glass.
Squeeze the juice of several limes or a lemon into the glass.
Fill three-quarters of the glass with ginger ale.
Top up with 4 cl of dark rum.
Finish off with a slice of fresh lemon.
Lewis: 'It's a very refreshing drink, which looks great too; the dark rum contrasts beautifully with the light ginger ale.'
Look up #@giniusaxis or #giniusaxis on Instagram for more creations and inspiration.
If you are looking for a venue for a fun evening out with your team and/or would like to know more about cocktails and the secrets of gin, why not come along to a gin workshop or a cocktail master class? For more information, see And the link to our Hilton Schiphol Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/hiltonschiphol.