After our long trip from Amsterdam to Hasselt in our try to find out the most out of the Dutch spirit, we couldn’t miss visiting some local traditional bars. Pronounced proeflokaals, these were the places where we hoped that we could learn some more things from local bartenders about genever. Surprisingly or not, this was one of the best decisions that we made, since this was the best way to learn many more historical, traditional and cultural fact, that genever carries for decades. The older generation of Dutch people used to try jonge, oude, corenwiijn, fruit and other styles of genever in neighborhood bars called proeflokaals. The word itself means tasting room and in fact, proeflokaals were heavy wooden style, old and fabulous bars, which were dedicated to genever. Local people and their friends were visiting these nice brown bars in order to have one or more drinks. They had the ability to choose among a big variety of aged or unaged genevers. Wealthy imbibers also used to choose and rent their own casks, which were filled with whatever style of the juniperus booze. Like Cognac for the French, bourbon for Americans and tsipouro for the Greeks, jenever was the national spirit for the Dutch and they knew exactly how to appreciate it.
We visited the oldest tasting room in Amsterdam: “De Drie Fleschjes” (“The Three Little Bottles”), founded by the Bootz Distillery. Built around 1650, this warm, peaceful tavern houses a wall of fifty wooden spirit barrels, remaining in the same dominant place for centuries. We also took a look at a cabinet containing a unique collection of little bottles (called flagons) depicting former Mayors of Amsterdam.
Later on the same day, we had an unforgettable dinner at “De Admiraal”, the tasting room of A.van Wees distilleerderij De Ooievaar. When the dark covered the beautiful city of Amsterdam, we made a quick look-in at Wynand Focking proeflokaal.