Amsterdam’s historic proeflokaal tasting rooms have been serving Dutch gin – jenever – and liqueurs for centuries. Most have changed little over time. Here are some of the best spots in Amsterdam to sip and “slurpen”.
Amsterdam’s most famous proeflokaal, Wynand Fockink, is named after its founder, who opened a distillery next door in 1679. You’ll find it down a narrow covered alleyway east of Dam Square.
There are no tables in the tiny front bar, so you’ll have to stand as you sample the house spirits. Before picking up each brimming glass, custom dictates that you must first nippen, or slurpen. This means bending down and taking the first sip without using your hands.
In De Olofspoort
In De Olofspoort has stood at Nieuwebrugsteeg 13, just around the corner from Centraal Station, since 1618. It is named after an old city gate that previously occupied the site.
As you admire the wood-panelled walls and tiled floors, you can choose from over 200 different liqueurs and spirits. There’s also a wide selection of jenever flavoured with fruit and aged in oak vats.
Ooievaar means “stork”, and the name comes from the fact that these birds often built their nests at the top of tall distillery chimneys.
The characterful building that houses the Ooievaar proeflokaal leans slightly, betraying its considerable age. It’s a tiny bar on the corner of Zeedijk and Sint Olofspoort, close to Amsterdam Centraal station.
Despite its busy location, locals chatting with the landlord always seem to outnumber visiting foreigners. Come in and be welcomed as part of the Amsterdam community. It’s open daily from noon.
At Drie Fleschjes (Three Little Bottles) you could be forgiven for thinking time had stood still, except that on quieter days you can still hear the clock ticking at the back of the room.
This charming bar has wooden floorboards and a long row of stacked barrels embedded in one wall. Liquor shots are served straight from the barrels and there are plenty of Dutch beers and soft drinks on offer, too.