Finding a nice bar where you will enjoy paying for drinks in Euro’s with your hard earned Rands, is one the most complicated things you'll do while exploring a new city.
You arrive in a new city well read and thirsty to sample the local brews. You preferably want to do that in a great drinking environment with music that will add to your travels, a place where you can meet locals. People who know their city. These people will not only tell you about their favourite hangouts. These people will share secrets of their city with you. Information that will definitely make your visit to a new bustling city wonderful.
The facts are that we live in a world where life moves quickly. City hotspots change. Specials come and go. Flavours change. And nobody knows this better than the good folk that live and work in your travel destination. I like to trust the bar people once I like a bar. So firstly I will ask the bar women and men who have their own favourites. And those special places are often unique and off the beaten track.
This was my second time traveling in the Netherlands and spending days in Amsterdam. This wonderful city has more or less 1500 bars, cafes and restaurants to chose from. That’s quite vast and you will need help to find the gems.
I prefer bars on corners. It just adds so much more to people watching in the streets. Music is important as the mood is set by what you hear. I am a beer lover and most bars I frequented had a wide beer variety. Since its Amsterdam best way to bar hop is by cycling or as they say fiets.
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Here are some of the gems I was directed to:
Eerste van Swindenstraat 581, 1093 LC Amsterdam
This was the first bar at which I departed with Euro in exchange for beer. I had to pick up a friend’s flat key. The staff were super friendly and eager to share their local knowledge. I have never been in a bar with so much greenery and a pink flamingo. There were green walls and plants everywhere. The interior of this bar will catch the eye of greenfingers and design lovers. Bar Botanique is the huiskamer (lounge) of the Dapperbuurt where you can relax and have a chat with locals. Located on a corner and close to the train tracks and station, you can sit back with a coffee or drink and see how the people of this neighbourhood move. Though I didn’t eat there myself, the menu is described as French-Mediterranean and by it’s popularity I’m assuming the food here is not bad either. There is a huge terrace outside which was packed on the sunny day I visited.
Molukkenstraat 33 Amsterdam
Don’t worry, you won’t find any Blue Bulls memorabilia here. This is my Amsterdam friend’s favourite. Joost is as local as you can get in the Indische Buurt, a neighbourhood in the borough of Oost in Amsterdam. The bar prides itself as a place where you will meet your neighbours. The stock of Amsterdam microbreweries on offer here is a beer lovers’ dream. Let them guide you with ordering beer, they know their stuff. They also serve other liquor and coffee if beer is not for you. Is a supper cosy environment with good music selection that is sometimes played from vinyl. Joost is the bar you would love to call your local or Buurtbar as they say in the Netherlands. And do try out their variety of plankje snacks served on wooden plank. We enjoyed some Dutch cheese and cured meat (it sounds a lot more pretentious than it is). If you are not cycling to Joost, hop on bus 22 Indische Buurt.
NDSM Plein 102, 1033 WB Amsterdam
When last did you take a free ferry to go and have drinks? Well hop on the ferry to the NDSM Werf (NDSM stands for Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij, or Netherlands Docks and Shipbuilding Company) and go to Noorderlicht. Set in a greenhouse like structure, Noorderlicht is a magical edgy place where you can eat, drink, play pool and see live music. Have a look at the program on their website to see which bands or DJ’s are playing on the outdoor stage. Their menu offers delicious sounding dishes for both vegans and meat lovers. I ate Barbershop: Pulled pork in cheddar-jalapeños sauce, coleslaw with BBQ sauce on frites (thick cut potato chips). It was one of the best pubbish-type meals I’ve in some time. It’s a quirky crowd and we even got to sit across from a 10-piece laid-back wedding party who enjoyed their own variety of frites.
Oosterpark 10, 1092 AE Amsterdam
“There is always a reason to drink” said Charles Bukowski. Bar Bukowski is named after the German-American poet and novelist who had a love for women, literature and alcohol. It’s located opposite the Oosterpark on a street corner, and it’s wide open windows is perfect for people watching as they cycle past. The all-day cafe is great for breakfast, lunch and dinner or drinks. Their beers includes local to Belgian brews. I enjoyed a strong blond beer by Brouwerij ’t IJ. The indie music that hummed at just the right volume added to my experience. If you prefer cocktails, the bar has a separate area for just that.
Marnixstraat 429, 1017 PK Amsterdam
Kopstootje is the combination of beer with a shot Dutch jenever (gin). You down the shot and then enjoy your beer, apparently a very Dutch thing to do. And to top it, the owners of Kopstootbar make their own jenever called Jajem. It’s also used in their cocktails and food. Kopstootbar is a place where you can have drinks, eat and dance. You can even play a game of table tennis. This spot is refreshingly local for the area around the touristy Leidseplein. Like some of the other bars on my list, this one also boasts huge windows at street level if people watching is your thing. This bar is just behind the Stadsschouwburg, so I would imagine its a cool spot for after theatre drinks.
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