With a huge terrace jutting into the Amstel river, Riva is definitely the place to patronise now that spring is in the air. Its location, south of the city centre and close to the Amstel business park, means that it’s likely to be busiest on sunny evenings after work. But head there on a weekend and you can beat the crowds in the centre and bag a spot by the water. If the weather is a little chillier, the interior is atmospheric too: with huge glass windows overlooking the river and water-inspired décor (the ceiling looks like it’s made up of a series of lapping waves), Riva is a far cry from the small, dark, brown cafés that Amsterdammers generally favour. The bar has an extensive wine list, a good variety of spirits and mixers, and a selection of snacks to keep you going in the late afternoon sun.
Bar Sopranos is, as the name suggests, not somewhere you just go to drink. With live pianists playing every night of the week, the focus is as much on the music as it is on the rest of the experience. But that’s not to say the latter is neglected: with deep red velvet upholstery, leather-clad bars, cosy booths and intimate tables for two, Sopranos’ interior is catering to the luxury market. And while prices for the Champagnes, wines, cocktails and mixed drinks on offer will leave your wallet feeling light at the end of the evening, the experience will leave you feeling like a celebrity. Sopranos hosts regular events, many of which are open to the public (registration often required), but is also available for private hire for your next masked ball or burlesque cabaret party...
A sliver of prime real estate on the corner of the buzzing, bar- and restaurant-lined Utrechtsestraat and the serene majesty of the Herengracht (one of Amsterdam’s most prestigious canals) is occupied by Brug34. The bar’s tagline is “coffee by day – drinks by night”, and indeed it does both rather well. The interior is bright and sunny enough to feel like a great daytime hangout – take your laptop and settle in for a caffeine session. But it’s also elegant and evening-oriented so as to invite a casual, after-work drink or a late-night digestif. There’s no wine list as such, but the bar’s website claims to have a good selection. If you ask the Belgian proprietor, you’ll get a small but well chosen list of affordable wines by the glass. And, if you’ve had a few too many, the bar recently opened its own exclusive B&B-style accommodation upstairs.
Café de Dokter
The thickness of the layer of dust coating the bird cage hanging from the ceiling in de Dokter (not to mention most other non-moving objects in the café – both inanimate and living) did not get there by accident. A trip down the tiny Rozenboomsteeg alley to Café de Dokter feels like a walk back through time – it looks like nothing has changed in hundreds of years. Although the bar’s central location means tourists do visit, some of the locals look like they’ve not moved in a few decades, either. The drinks selection is small, so don’t go expecting a fancy wine list or cocktail menu. But do go for the atmosphere, sit back with a beer, and order a portion of the most fabulous “ossenworst” (a typically Dutch snack of smoked raw beef sausage) you’ll eat in Holland.
Written by Vicky Hampton the Amsterdam Foodie