Best spots to slurp jenever in Amsterdam
There’s a lot more to jenever (a.k.a genièvre or genever) than simply being ‘Dutch gin’. Amsterdam has always been a hotspot for this juniper flavoured liqueur, with a distilling tradition that goes back centuries. It actually predates that of British gin, we’ll have you know. Jonge (young) jenever has a neutral aromatic taste, whilst oude (old) jenever is aged in barrels to create smoky flavours. From tasting rooms and brown cafes in age-old buildings to trendy cocktail bars mixing inventive concoctions, here’s our roundup of the best spots to slurp the good stuff in Amsterdam.
Wynand Fockink Tasting Room & Liquor Store
This authentic tavern and distillery is a must-visit for curious drinkers and history buffs alike. Wynand Fockink has been serving traditional fruit brandies and liqueurs since 1679, specialising in three and five-year-old malt jenevers aged in oak barrels. The atmospheric tasting room, which still houses a special collection of antique bottles, is the perfect place to slurp different jenever varieties from a typical tulip-shaped glass, but be sure to maintain the tradition of bowing before taking your first sip. You can also order a beer on the side - a combination known as a kopstootje, meaning “head butt”.
De Drie Fleschjes
Anyone with a strictly anthropological interest in Dutch drinking culture needs to head down to De Drie Fleschjes (the three little bottles), the oldest tasting room in the city. Located at the base of the Nieuwe Kerk, this well-worn proeflokaal was established in 1650, serving up jenever, liqueurs and local beers to generations of patrons. The bartenders will be happy to give you advice on what to sample from the authentic casks displayed behind the retro bar. The in-house bar snacks are as traditional as the tipples, including ossenworst (ox-sausage), meatballs in gravy and Beemster cheese with mustard. Lekker!
Proeflokaal A. van Wees (De Admiraal)
Occupying a covetable canalside location on the historic Herengracht, De Admiraal is the tasting room for the van Wees Distillery. Opened in 1973 by the van Wees family, it's the prime spot to get acquainted with Amsterdam’s homegrown jenever culture as well as traditional Dutch cuisine. Inside, the cavern-like building oozes authentic charm, from the original pump displayed behind the bar to the stone floors. On the menu, you’ll find an assortment of jenevers, old-Dutch liqueurs, and soul-warming bar snacks like bitterballen and croquettes. They also offer tastings and guided tours of the Ooievaar Distillery in the neighbouring Jordaan.
Distilleerderij 't Nieuwe Diep
Housed in a former pumping station in the middle of the lush green Flevopark, a trip to The Nieuwe Diep Distillery is a rather special excursion into Amsterdam Oost. Surrounded by an orchard and with stunning lakeside views, the tranquil terrace is the perfect spot to catch a few afternoon rays. It's a simple and friendly set-up; simply head over to the hatch in the wall to place your order, choosing from a selection of homemade jenevers, French apple ciders, German beers, tea, and coffee along with artisanal cheeses and meats supplied from local producers.
Tip: If you can’t make it to Flevopark, Proeflokaal ‘t Kelkje is a quaint and friendly little tasting bar in Centrum which serves up all of the jenever assortments distilled at 't Nieuwe Diep.
Legend has it that the phrase ‘Dutch Courage’ dates back to the Eighty Year’s War (1568-1648) when English soldiers witnessed the Dutch swigging huge gulps of jenever to take the edge of the morning battles. This cosy cocktail bar on Zeedijk pays homage to historic Dutch liqueurs and spirits, featuring over 150 different varieties of jenevers mixed into delicious cocktails. Inside, you’ll also find the world’s first kopstootje vending machine customised to serve three types of jenever, paired with a cold beer on the side - only in Amsterdam, right?
House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience
Nothing warms up a day of museum hopping better than a pitstop at the House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience. Embark on an unforgettable interactive journey as you find out all about Lucas Bols, the city’s longest-standing distilled spirit brand, established in 1575. You’ll have the opportunity to try over 42 liqueurs, including traditional jenevers mixed into delicious cocktails. The tour concludes with a visit to the Mirror Bar, where bartenders will shake up your favourites. Best of all, House of Bols is accessible with the I amsterdam City Card.
In de Wildeman
In de Wildeman is a cosy little tavern, located in a former jenever distillery that dates back to 1690. Now, the bar specialises in Dutch and European craft beers, boasting a weekly changing selection of 18 draft varieties and more than 250 different bottled brews and ciders. That being said, you’ll still find a nice selection of spirits to sample and the authentic atmosphere of the building tucked away on a cobbled steegje (side street) makes a session here well worth the trip.
Café Slijterij Oosterling
This traditional brown cafe has been in the hands of the Oosterling family since 1877, now owned by the fourth generation: brothers, Marcel and Oscar. The building itself dates back to 1735 when it was owned by the East India Company and inside, the tiled floors and old-timey furnishings make it feel like time has stood still. Prop up at the bar for a kopstootje and some bar snacks and ask the bartenders to verify the rumours about the premises being haunted. Osterling is also a liquor store with a range of jenevers and other liqueurs available for purchase when you’ve found your favourite.
Bar Mokum in De Pijp is one of the city’s most well-regarded cocktail establishments, with a drinks list that showcases the best of Amsterdam-made liqueurs and spirits. You’ll find an impressive array of jenevers to sample straight-up from the back bar, or mixed into creative cocktails. The Gleuvenrijder Espresso Martini made infused with stroopwafel is a firm favourite. And if you generally prefer your drinks shaken, stirred or with a cherry on top, this rundown of the best cocktail bars in the city has got you covered.