(Reuters.com) - While most famous for certain other intoxicating substances, Amsterdam has a small but growing cocktail scene.
Just ask Philip Duff, a Rotterdam-based bartender, consultant and self-professed "lounge lizard." He's also the owner of Door 74 (<door74.nl/ >), a speakeasy-style lounge hidden away on a busy street close to Rembrandt Square.
"It's by the book," Duff says, "Locked door, ring the bell." Inside, you'll find a business-traveller-friendly space offering classic cocktails and "very little Red Bull."
Indeed, most of the guests were out-of-towners when the bar was first opened in 2008, an effect deepened when Door 74 was nominated for the 2009 "World's Best Cocktail Bar" award at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans. "We became more popular abroad first because of that," Duff recalls. "People were bringing friends to us."
Although gin and its Dutch cousin genever (or jenever) may be spotted at bars, including Door 74, where both are used in cocktails such as the Super-Dry Martini Doble, Duff scoffs that locals don't imbibe much of the stuff, preferring Scotch, beer and rum (particularly Bacardi mixed with Coke).
The one exception: traditional genever-tasting bars. "You'll find lots of businessmen there," he explains, "it's a pub-like atmosphere." In this genre, Duff recommends De Drie Fleschjis ("The Three Bottles", 020 624 8443), which dates back to 1650: "It has sawdust on the floor, racks of genever on the bar, cheese and snacks, and not a lot of tourists."
Meanwhile, in the grand Hotel de L'Europe, Duff also frequents the upscale Freddy's Bar (<www.leurope.nl/freddys>), named after brewing magnate Alfred Heineken. The bar, a classic after-work drinks spot with an old-world feel, is famed for its Bloody Marys and deal-making clientele.
The more wine-inclined may prefer to seek out contemporary wine bar Vyne (<www.vyne.nl>). The Twenty Third Bar (<here>), on the 23rd floor of Okura Hotel, is also known for its champagne and wine selection, as well as the panoramic view.
With access to all these wonderfully intoxicating libations, you may nearly forget about those, ahem, other substances so widely available in Amsterdam.
RECIPE: Super-Dry Martini Doble In keeping with Door 74's policy, this drink has "no juices, non-alcoholic cocktails, nothing bottled, just an ultra-classic cocktail," as re-imagined by Philip Duff. You can also watch Duff making this drink at <vimeo.com/4258010>, courtesy of the "Oh Gosh" blog.
A significant amount of gin, such as Beefeater 24 (about 2 ounces)
A few dashes of bitter orange liqueur (about ¼ ounce)
A spot of Dolan dry vermouth (about 1 ounce)
5 drops of Pernod
In a large mixing glass stir together gin, orange liqueur and vermouth with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Using an eyedropper, float five drops of Pernod on top. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
(Kara Newman is the author of "Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails", available <here>. The opinions expressed are her own.) (Editing by Peter Myers)