Like all places, bars in Amsterdam are scattered throughout the entire city, with a select few residing directly on our world famous UNESCO World Heritage Canals. These bars are often located in former canal homes, making a stop at one is a must-do when in town. At these Amsterdam canal bars, your cocktail always comes with a slice of history and a view of lapping waves and pleasure boats plying the water, and the following Amsterdam canal bars are four of the best.
Located in the lobby of the posh Andaz Hotel and just steps from the choppy water of the Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal), Bluespoon Bar's name evokes imagery of the famous - and much sought after - Delft Blue pottery, and the cocktails on offer are just as regal. Upon entering, one of the things you will notice right away is that the bar at Bluespoon is located on an island in the middle of the room, giving the venue an intimate and welcoming feeling. Low light and plush black leather seating complete the mood, and pair perfectly with a cocktail list full of vintage mixes dating from the era just before, after, or during Prohibition, like the Bee's Knees - saffron gin, honey, vanilla, and lemon - and the Cup of Moonshine - Jim Bean, black tea, maple syrup, lemon juice - alongside creative new cocktails. Case in point is the Graphity I sampled, which blends traditional Dutch Jenever, Falernum, vanilla, elderflower, and lemon with touches of Tabasco and cucumber which balance each other out perfectly to create a spicy and smooth new concoction with authentic Dutch flavour.
Just a few doors down, you will find Het Molenpad, a casual - yet still smart - bar directly on the water offering drinks with prime views of the Prinsengracht. In summer months, the terrace at Het Molenpad is without a doubt one of the best in the city as their terrace tables are located closer to the water than they are the bar. If you come to Het Molenpad in winter though, you are still in for a treat as the interior is the definition of cozy without showing any sign of wear. Candles flicker inside and the wood-clad walls and tables create the perfect atmosphere for a beer on draft or freshly shaken seasonal cocktail.
On the appropriately named Keizergracht, which translates to Emperor's Canal, Canal House reigns as one of the finest boutique hotel bars in the city. With a view directly on the water through its stately windows, the bar serves up elegance in spades from its perch inside a historic former Golden Age merchant's residence. The Canal House bar is expertly decked out in suave black decor with mammoth gilded mirrors and chandeliers that create the ideal ambiance for lingering over a cocktail or two during a long afternoon or late evening. Two of their specialties are the terrifically tart Bramble - gin, lemon juice, blackberry and simple syrups - and a punchy Passion Fruit Martini. Canal House also has a special affinity for pouring gin and its Dutch predecessor jenever, and are always eager to mix you up a drink with them as the star.
In a historic canal house on the grand Kloveniersburgwal waterway near the bustling Nieuwmarkt, De Engelbewaarder has been a spot for literary-infused libations in Amsterdam for years. High ceilings and loaded book shelves bring a sophistication to De Engelbewaarder that is sometimes lacking in other beer cafes - they typically have over a dozen on draft - and let you know right away that this is the type of bar in which you should savor a beer and perhaps engage in a spat of stimulating conversation. Live jazz is a staple on Sundays, and whether you admire the canal from the windows inside or the terrace outside like I did, a stop at De Engelbewaarder is sure to be an enlightening experience.
Brought to you by Jameson
Written by Scott Hartbeck