Best Bars in Amsterdam to Drink, Socialize and Relax
By Jessica Lipowski
Amsterdam Local Expert
Kick back and relax at one of Amsterdam’s many bars. The city is full of places to order a refreshing drink and catch up with friends. Perhaps you feel like playing chess, darts or pool; several bars offer games and entertainment. With so many options, though, it can be difficult to decide where to spend the evening. After searching long and hard, 10Best has put together a list of the best of the best to help make your decision easier.
Hannekes Boom is perfect in the summer. The café has an enormous terrace, with plenty of space to relax along the waterfront. If you love to play games with family or friends, Café de Laurierboom offers chess matches, bridge games and darts, while the Sound Garden provides pool and foosball tables. For an incredible view of the city, make sure to try the Sky Lounge at Double Tree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station or the 23rd floor of the Okura Hotel. Vesper and NJOY are well known for their amazing cocktails, while Kamer 401 and De Nieuwe Anita are extremely hip and trendy. t’Smalle and De Spuyt just provide a relaxing ambiance. In de Wildeman offers 18 beers on tap, and Wynand Fockink is a great place to try local spirits and liqueurs. Wine lovers should visit Vyne, one of Amsterdam’s wine bars, and whisky connoisseurs will want to head to L&B. Whatever you feel like doing, Amsterdam provides the right atmosphere for a great night.
10 De Nieuwe Anita
Known for its comfortable vintage interior, welcoming atmosphere and alternative crowd, De Nieuwe Anita is one of Amsterdam's hippest and trendiest bars. The establishment, also called DNA, offers a variety of entertainment, which ranges from short films and stand-up comedy to music and other live performances. There are even shows behind the bar. Therefore, whether you've come to chat with friends and have a cocktail, hang out with family, dance the night away or share an evening with your significant other, De Nieuwe Anita promises a good time. Make sure to check the program before hand to see what's in store. (N/A)
9 De Druif
De Druif, which literally translates to "The Grape" in English, is one of the oldest bars in Amsterdam. Originally a distillery, De Druif dates back to 1631. It is speculated that sailors frequently visited the establishment. Now, De Druif is a local Amsterdam favorite. The place does not play any music but still offers an intimate and cozy environment to have a drink. You can choose from an assortment of beers and spirits and have an enjoyable, relaxing occasion out. If weather permits, visitors can sit outside on the terrace or lounge inside if it's raining or cold. It is difficult to reach by public transportation, so it is best to walk or bike. (+31 20 6244530)
8 Café Brecht
At Café Brecht, you will feel at ease the second you step inside. Relax in one of the café's old-fashioned, comfortable chairs. It's almost as if you are sitting in your family's living room. The café is named after German writer, poet and director Eugen Berthold Friedrich (Bertolt) Brecht, and the theme is centered on the German culture. Café Brecht serves lunch, cakes and snacks and uses many local products, including cheeses, juices and wines. The beer is quite special, though. You will find Budweiser Budvar on tap and other beers, such as Jever, Berliner, Staropramen, Schlenkerla, Chateau Neubourg, Rothaus Tannenzäpfle, Augustiner and Köstritzer, by the bottle. Be sure to also check the agenda. Sometimes Café Brecht hosts concerts, plays or poetry readings. Be aware the cafe does not accept reservations. (+31 20 6272211)
7 Whiskycafé L&B
Calling all whisky lovers and whisky connoisseurs. Next time you are in Amsterdam, you will certainly want to stop by Whiskycafé L&B. Whiskycafé L&B, which is located in the heart of Amsterdam just around the corner from bustling Leidseplein, is home to more than 1800 whiskeys. Order your favorite or ask to try something new. You literally have hundreds to choose from. Whisky Magazine nominated L&B as "Great Whisky Bar of the World." L&B also won the Scotch Single Malt Whisky Award in 2008. You're in for a real treat. Don't worry if you are with someone who does not like whisky. L&B also offers wine and beer. (+31 20 6252387)
6 Cafe Sound Garden
Next time you're in Amsterdam, visit the Sound Garden. This café, established in 1993, is always entertaining. If the weather is nice, sit outside in the garden and order a drink. The bar is always stocked. If you cannot decide, the cafe offers a beer of the month to help make the decision easier. Later, you can challenge your friends to a game of pool or foosball. You will even find a pinball machine. At night, the café sometimes welcomes various DJs and bands. Some of the bands that have played at the Sound Garden include Kleveland, Labcane, Nancy's Revenge and Nuff Said. Everyone that works at and visits the Sound Garden is passionate about music, so you'll always have great tunes to rock out to. Don't forget to look at the art, and oh, keep an eye out for the friendly café cat. (+31 20 620 2853)
Wine lovers will not want to miss Vyne, one of Amsterdam's only bars dedicated entirely to wine. Owner Bert van der Leden originally founded the establishment to fill a gap in the market. Amsterdam is internationally known for its great beer, but van der Leden wanted to provide a place where people could also enjoy wine. At Vyne, you will experience wine at its finest. You can order a flight, which includes three half glasses. This enables you to sample a variety. If you're with a group, you can even organize a tasting. They offer different packages, including a basic one, a bundle that focuses on wine with bubbles and a new versus old world package. Vyne even provides snack food to complement your selection, such as steak tartar, crunchy prawns, Italian hams and cheese. Sit back, enjoy your surroundings and sip on a great glass of wine. (+31 20 3446408)
4 Vesper Bar
If you want a classy night out, visit Vesper Bar. This intimate place serves some of the best cocktails in Amsterdam. Ladies, get that little black dress out of the closet and find your cutest pair of high heels. Men, put on a collared shirt and nice dress shoes. "The Vesper Martini" is a classic. The "Isle of Dreams" is smooth and made with Banks 5 rum, lime juice, Falernum, ginger liqueur and pineapple juice. Maybe you just need some medicine after a long day of work. The "Penicillin" is made with Monkey Shoulder whisky, honey ginger syrup, lemon juice and Islay whisky. If you think there are too many options and just want to be surprised, ask the bartender for the "Leap of Faith." Whatever you get, every cocktail concoction is absolutely refreshing and delicious. If someone does not like cocktails, Vesper also serves wine and beer. (+31 20 846 4458)
3 Wynand Fockink
Wynand Fockink is not your ordinary bar. Not only can you taste various spirits and liqueurs, but you can also explore a little piece of Amsterdam's history. Wynand Fockink opened in 1679. Today, you can tour the distillery and watch how the products are made. Because of its interior, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time. There is an English tour every Saturday at 12:30 that lasts approximately 45 minutes, so you can learn more about the process. At the end, make sure to sample one of the house specialties, the "Half en Half" or the "Boswandeling." You can even try the distillery's three-year old malt jenever, "WF Superior." Stop by this charming little place for a drink or just have a peak inside. Don't forget to admire the collection of antique bottles. (+31 20 639 2695)
2 In de Wildeman
In de Wildeman is an Amsterdam favorite. With more than 250 beers available, 18 of which are on tap, beer lovers rejoice at the mere mention of this pub's name. The bar was once a distillery and is now a well-known beer tasting room. In de Wildeman focuses mainly on Dutch and Belgian brews, but also offers British, American and German beers, as well as several ciders. With so many options to choose from, making a decision can be daunting. When in doubt, select the beer of the week or beer of the month. You can't go wrong. Make sure to soak in the authentic atmosphere, too. (+31 20 638 2348)
1 Hannekes Boom
Melt away the stress of the day at Hannekes Boom. Enjoy a cold beer along the peaceful waterfront with friends or family. Make sure to secure a spot on the beautiful terrace. Find a seat at one of the numerous picnic tables or lounge in one of the beanbags. If it's cold, settle into one of the comfortable armchairs inside. Hungry? Grab a bite to eat. The menu changes daily or weekly, so you are in for a surprise. The restaurant is known for its creativity, and the ingredients are always fresh. Listen to the music or maybe dance a little. Just have fun - that's what it's all about at Hannekes. You can arrive by various means of transportation -- whatever is easiest for you: foot, bike, boat, train, tram, and car. However, foot or bike is recommended. (+31 (0)20 4199820)
About Jessica Lipowski
In more ways than one, Jessica has fallen in love with the Netherlands. She moved in 2011, seizing an opportunity to live abroad, a long-time dream. For two years, she worked for an online group travel and event planning platform. She understands the ins and outs of arranging anything travel related. Now she is working on a book. Jessica has always had a passion for writing. She also developed her love for travel early. She’s traveled all over the US and Europe, enjoying scenery, diverse cultures and delicious meals. She is sure Amsterdam is a city you'll never forget.
Read more about Jessica Lipowski here.