Two Local Drinks to Enjoy in Amsterdam

Claes Claesz in de Jordaan in Amsterdam

you can find both here.

Amsterdam is a destination that conjures up thoughts of a party, yet the city offers much more to the traveler. But regardless of your reason to visit the destination two different drinks need to make it on your bar menu during your stay.

Yes, two local drinks are a must. One is so common I am not sure if you could escape it if you tried.  And the other might be a bit more subtle,  so you’ll definitely need to ask for it.

a Pint of Heineken

Whether in a quiet part of town on the canal or perhaps a more popular square sitting down and enjoying an afternoon pint seems to be a right of passage in Amsterdam. Walking the streets or touring the city in any of the many ways to see Amsterdam you will notice the “Red Star.” You’ll see it on glasses, on signs, on umbrellas – everywhere. Yes, you’ll see Heineken everywhere. And although a working brewery is no longer located in the heart of the city, a tour still exists for those true fans. Today visitors enjoy the Heineken Experience and yes it comes with samples.

So yes, the choice is simple – Heineken. And don’t search for the “lite” versions either, they don’t exist here. In fact even Amstel is just Amstel. Enjoy the full flavor – heck you are on vacation, no?

glass of Heineken and glass of Amstel in Amsterdam

a Glass of Jenever – Dutch Gin

After watching a Globe Trekker episode on Holland, I needed to also try Jenever. I’ve seen it spelled many ways, including with a “G” too and it is all known as Dutch Gin and it was a unique find in Amsterdam. The liquor has a deep history in early cocktails. It seems the original gin was Jenever, but today it is mostly found in a unique glass and straight.

One evening when I stumbled upon a cozy restaurant along the canal I asked about it and eventually sampled a few. I just couldn’t help watching them make such a perfect pour. It always almost seemed to be over the top, but they never spilled a drop, however I often did when I picked it.

a glass of Jenever, dutch gin in amsterdamkettle 1 Jenever, Dutch Gin

Talking with my friends at Team Cocktail at a rum festival, I noticed their T-Shirt, “Travel Globally, Drink Locally.” I loved it. It resonated with me not just because of the chance to drink something new, but it is the chance to learn about culture, history and socialize with locals too.

stay adventurous, Craig
this post is part of the European Summer Series

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  • lola

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. i’m sure you’re not surprised, Craig. it does involve booze. 😉 but, really, it is a favorite thing for me to try local specialties when traveling so the Team Cocktail quote resonates with me too. want to try that gin!!

    • craig zabransky

      Yes, LOVE that quote… I must get that t-shirt too.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Leah Travels

    I love Amstel. It’s certainly one of my favorite beers here in the US. I bet it’s even better in Amsterdam. Good point about drinking the real thing. Calories don’t count on vacation.

    • craig zabransky

      Yes, what happens on your travels, stays on your travels….. enjoy
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Kieu – GQ trippin

    I didn’t get to try gin while there but definitely downed a few Heineys – so good. I’m with Leah, who counts calories on vacation anyway?! Boo to that.

  • travelingted

    The day I had set aside to visit the Heineken Brewery and the Anne Franke house turned out to be Sunday and they were both closed. I had a train ticket out the next day. Sometimes when you are traveling you lose track of important things like what day it is. Thanks for highlighting what I missed. It motivates me to return.

    • craig zabransky

      Ted, I think losing track of the days is at times what travel is all about. and I was 0 for 2 at the Heineken Brewery (first time sold out, second time closed) before I made it the 3rd time a charm.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Pola

    Not a huge beer drinker here, but I do like trying local beer from time to time, or at least sitting next to hubby sampling the brews. 😉 Whoever made the T-shirt was right. How in the world did they not spill the gin? Impressive, really!

  • Raul

    I had jenever for the first
    time in my flight over to Bucharest from Amsterdam last month so your
    post is very timely! On the trans-Atlantic flight, KLM gave us a little
    parting gift of a porcelain-like small house that seemed to have a
    liquid. So I asked a flight attendant on that flight to Bucharest and he
    gave me a full explanation for the different kinds of jenever (really,
    quality levels), poured me one, and then gave me a small bottle for me
    to take!

    • craig zabransky

      that’s exactly how you learn… and it was quite good from what I remember. stay adventurous, Craig

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