Amsterdam offers an overwhelming array of drinking establishments, ranging from traditional watering holes known as brown cafés to casual bars that let you smoke naughtier products purchased from a coffeeshop. But for those who like a bit of glitz and glamour, the city can do sophistication very well, too. Here are six of the best places to check out.
It’s rare that a bar can pull off a period theme – in this case the 1920s – with the right level of elegance, but Hiding in Plain Sight, or HPS (Rapenburg 18, www.hpsamsterdam.com) does it very well. Very quirky and ever so slightly hipster, this tiny, unobtrusive spot offers cocktails that are works of art prepared by mixologists who will dazzle you with their skills. It’s entirely worth making the short trip to the city’s north-eastern outskirts for this gem, but book ahead if possible.
Set in the Park Hotel, MOMO (Hobbemastraat 1, www.momo-amsterdam.com) is an Asian-Fusion restaurant, bar and lounge where you’re welcome just for drinks. The interior is chic and ridiculously swish, and you can sit at the 360° bar or on a funky patterned sofa. Select one of the spectacular cocktails, such as a watermelon vanilla martini or a Koh Samui mule, or sample some sake. If you get hungry, the bar menu offers delicious snacks. Brace yourself for the bill, but you won’t regret it.
Love wine? Head straight here. Vyne (Prinsengracht 411, www.vyne.nl) is a chic little bar with an entire wall full of the stuff that you can buy by the half-glass, glass or bottle, and they offer informative and knowledgeable tastings. There are small snacks only on the food front, but then why would you want to distract yourself from the wine?
Tough-sounding cocktails inspired by gangsters such as Al Capone and Pablo Escobar abound here, but there’s no pretentiousness at the James Bond-themed Vesper Bar (Vinkenstraat 57, www.vesperbar.nl), just talented bar staff and a very cool vibe. It’s a small place and can get very busy, but the drinks are always interesting – try the Leap of Faith cocktail, a drink devised for you based on your own preferences. Closed Sunday and Monday.
How about a shot of history with your drink? Visit the House of Bols (Paulus Potterstraat 14, https://bols.com/experience) for the Cocktail and Genever Experience, which explores the scents of Bols’ famous spirits on a fun, interesting and interactive tour. Finish at the bar with a cocktail prepared especially for you. Or two. Who said drinking can’t be cultural?
This place gets an honourable mention because although it’s actually a restaurant – and a hotel restaurant at that – Harbour Club Kitchen (Apollolaan 2, http://theharbourclub.com) is cool. At the back of the Wyndham Apollo Hotel, the bar actually sits on the harbour itself and the slick lighting, an extensive wine list and delicious cocktails make it a great place for a weekend evening drink.