While tThe Netherlands produces beer and a handful of wines, the country has long had a historically rich cocktail tradition. After all, it’s the land of genever—the predecessor of gin—and the home country of major spirits producers such as Bols and Ketel One. And Amsterdam in particular is a hotbed of cocktail innovation.
Holland’s largest city is full of older, small bars and cutting-edge hip speakeasies, inspired by legendary bars such as Milk and Honey (New York and London) and Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco. Amsterdam is quite an expensive city, and cocktail prices reflect that.
For instance, many trendy locals couldn’t get enough barrel-aged Negronis for 18 euro (approximately $22) at The Butcher—a new speakeasy hidden behind a hamburger restaurant—in the hopping De Pijp area. The bar is located down a brightly lit hallway beyond a row of burger-flipping chefs, who will often deny there is a bar on the premises.
De Dokter, reportedly the smallest bar in Amsterdam—and a favorite of cocktail icons like David Wondrich and Gary Regan—focuses on clean and simple drinks. Straight genever, local beer and an occasional glass of wine are the preferred quaffs here, accompanied by classic American jazz.
Speaking of genever, the malty, herbal spirit has long had local ties to Holland, having been invented here in the 1600s. Many Dutch restaurants serve it unembellished in small tulip-shaped glasses and as part of the mix in drinks. The mega-liqueur producer Bols naturally features Genever in dozens of cocktails at its local museum and tasting room.