Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting Amsterdam for work. At that time, I was coordinating a media and bartender trip to the House of Bols, for my clients Beam Canada and Bols.
Having grown up seeing Bols Advocaat often offered to guests, or sipped by grandma who l loved the mix of the rich, creamy taste and alcohol, I was eager to learn more and see the historical roots of the brand.
The Lucas Bols company has been distilling fine quality liquors since the 17th century, ever since the Dutch became an economic power due to foreign trade. Remember learning about the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) or Dutch West India Company? Well, it’s these companies that have imported to the Netherlands exotic spices and herbs that Bols has used to produce liqueurs and the famous Dutch spirit – genever (jenever, or “Dutch gin”), a precursor to gin. Bols brought back the traditional way of making genever in 2008, based on an old recipe from 1820.
Visiting the House of Bols, you get to immerse yourself in the history of the distillery, its products and how they are created using the best ingredients. You use your sense fully during the tour – the long, colourful galley room containing 36 Bols liqueurs gives you a chance to test your sense of smell. You also get to check out all 90 beautiful Bols Delft blue houses, given away as a gift to those in Business and Royal Class on KLM flights since 1952. Each of the houses has Bols Genever inside… for a little nip on the flight or when you return home.
You end off the tour with a preferred Bols drink (first one is free – a second drink costs an extra 5 euro) at the Mirror Bar. You can test your flair bartending skills with an interactive station.
If you fall in love with Bols Genever and their many other liqueurs, you can visit a number of genever bars throughout the city such as De Drie Fleschjes. Try a kopstoot (aka Head Butt) where you have full glass of genever paired with beer – first you slurp the genever, bending your head to the table and then drink your beer. Accidents may happen if you and your friends bend to drink the genever at the same time – perhaps this is why it’s called head butt.
When in Amsterdam, visiting the House of Bols is one of the top things you can do according to Lonely Planet… and according to me!
Tip: Start off your day visiting the nearby Rijksmuseum (a visit can last several hours) and then head over to the House of Bols. Once you have one drink, you may want to have a few more.
House of Bols
Paulus Pottterstraat 14, 1071 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 570 8575
**This post is about an experience courtesy of one of my clients, however all thoughts and opinions, as well as photos are my own.