Every Amsterdam guide book will tell you to visit the Heineken Experience for a brewery tour but although that sounds like a great time, I wanted something different. The House of Bols seemed like it would offer a similar experience without the huge crowds so I bought a ticket – and am ever glad I did!
After checking in at the front desk, you start your self-guided tour by heading downstairs:
This sign gives a clue that you’re about to embark on a tour of the senses.
The interior is dark and swanky – not unlike an upscale lounge; I wasn’t suprised to learn that the House of Bols won an award for its design because it’s really top notch.
Moving from room to room, you learn about the ingredients that go into genever. In one room there are “touch” stations where you’ll find bins filled with botanicals (aniseed, hops and angelica) and juniper berries.
In another room, there’s a long row of mysterious bottles with rubber pumps – this is where you get to put your sniffer to the test. This room was a lot of fun; some scents where dead easy to figure out while others were real stumpers. In another room, they had little dissolving papers that you let melt on your tongue to test your sense of taste.
The part I was most looking forward was selecting my Bols cocktail! Once you make your way through the experience, you are met with this touch screen:
Depending on what kind of flavours you like (fruity? aromatic? sweet?) you print out your drink of choice and take it to the Mirror Bar.
A flair bartender takes your ticket, talks you through your drink of choice and with a little shake, shake, shake…
…your cocktail is ready! My pick, Cupidity, was gorgeous – small but spunky, the cucumber syrup and twist of cucumber rind really brought out the freshness of this drink.
Also not to be missed, there is a padded room where you can learn how to throw bottle around like a pro bartender (you can even film it to share with friends!)
Visiting the House of Bols is a must – experiencing the distinctly Dutch spirit genever was so much fun I’m sure I’ll be back again for one of their party nights!
House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience
Paulus Potterstraat 14
1071 CZ Amsterdam
– right across the street from the Van Gogh Museum