Amsterdam is quietly becoming a destination for the latest in drinking innovation—while still paying tribute to its beer-soaked beginnings. The cocktail revivalism of the 1990s might have been kickstarted by some curious British bartenders like Dick Bradsell and Tony Conigliaro. Twenty years later though, that same fascination with craft cocktails is spreading to most of Europe’s major cities. One of the latecomers was Amsterdam, where conventional drinking culture revolved around glugging traditionally glugged beer or the firewater-like gin known as genever. Now, though, they’re sipping small batch cocktails made in a slew of new swanky bars.
Powered in part by former mayor Job Cohen’s plan offering financial assistance to entrepreneurs developing creative business, Amsterdam’s cocktail scene has emerged with a distinctly Dutch identity, at least according to Dennis Tamse. Tamse is a former local bartender who’s been tapped as brand ambassador for Nolet, the country’s best-known distillery and maker of Ketel One. Holland’s globe-spanning heritage has been crucial, he says. “Some parts of the city have more than 66 different nationalities living within a few blocks of each other, so there are a lot of international influences on the drinks,” he explains, leading to a creative, often unexpected fusions of ingredients. Amsterdam’s compact layout has been a factor, too, providing a sense of camaraderie that can be rare among bars elsewhere. “You can basically walk everywhere,” he continues, “It like a villageeveryone knows each other.” Thirsty for some suggestions, we asked Tamse for his pick of the best places to sample Amsterdam’s burgeoning cocktail culture.
Crédits: Mark Ellwood