Overview of Consumption Laws
In the Netherlands, you can buy beer and wine when you are 16 and spirits when you are 18. There are strict, enforced laws against driving and biking under the influence of alcohol. You can even lose your driving license for using your bike if you exceed the limit of drinks that is tolerated. Drinking in all public spaces is forbidden by law, including parks. If you get caught by a policeman, you will first get a notice and if you do not comply then you will get a fine. However, national celebrations here always involve drinking beer, so the laws are not strict during these days.
Drinking among the Dutch
Among the Dutch, drinking can take on a very social nature. Often, the Dutch can be found gathering for beers even early in the mornings, at cafes or small restaurants around the city, where they sit for relaxed drinks with friends or colleagues. Most places you go will serve a huge variety of beers. Typical/commercial beers, such as Heineken and Amstel, cost between two and three euros for a glass (330 ml).
In Amsterdam, you will have to try Jenever, which is the juniper-flavored and strongly alcoholic traditional liquor of the Netherlands, from which gin evolved.
If you are looking to purchase reasonably priced beer or wine, with a decent selection, there are many grocery stores that can provide you with just that. This comes in handy while you are grocery shopping. Unfortunately, you can’t get spirits at the grocery store, though there is often a wine and spirits shop, likely a Gall & Gall, nearby. If you have missed the opening hours of one of these establishments, there are also night-shops (avondwinkels) that offer a small, but worthy selection of wines, beers and canned/bottled “mixed drinks” for inflated prices that would be insulting if these shops weren’t often open late – some as late as 1, as well as on Sundays (in most cases).
Gall & Gall is the prominent, all-encompassing alcohol chain in Amsterdam, and stores are dispersed throughout the city. At Gall & Gall you’ll find a range of international wines and spirits as well as a moderate range of beers. (http://www.gall.nl/ – Dutch only).
Specialty Beers and Wines
1012 RK Amsterdam
Situated just behind the Royal Palace, The Bierkoning consistently offers the largest selection of beers from around the world, with up to 950 different kinds for sale. For individuals in the Netherlands, the beers that are available can also be ordered through the store’s website. This shop has made it convenient for anyone in the city, and even the country, to locate and obtain any kind of beer from anywhere in the world.
For the beer lover, it is worth a stop across the street from the Cracked Kettle, where you will find a pub called Gollem (at Ramsteeg 4). This is one of Amsterdam’s “hidden treasures,” and while it is often quite crowded, there is a good reason for this! This pub has one of the most complete collections of Belgium beers with the most amicable bartenders; additionally, you can arrange beer tastings, catch a performance or just soak up some amazing beer and stellar atmosphere.
The House of Bols Museum
Founded in Amsterdam in 1575, Bols is the world’s oldest distiller. The Bols building also hosts the International Bols Bartender Academy (IBBA) — one of Europe’s largest bar school. While visiting the museum, you will be able to enjoy a free Jenever cocktail.
House of Bols
Paulus Potterstraat 14
1071 CZ Amsterdam
Tel: 020 – 570 8575