On the Lamb: Amsterdam 2012 (Part Vier)
The Bloggist Is Away

On their first day in Amsterdam, our bloggist and his girl-beard have thus far visited the city’s famous street market, toured the old Heineken brewery, and dropped in on The Van Gogh Museum, being the most popular art gallery in the Netherlands.

Right across this esteemed museum, our pair of hungover tourists came upon the low-key façade of the House of Bols, a building dedicated to the world’s oldest distillery brand. The Bols brand name has been around since 1575. It is known internationally for its liqueur line, which has over thirty flavors.

Including their legendary Bols Blue, however painful that may sound. [thanks, Bols]

Please forgive me for running wild on the Bols puns to follow…

I was familiar with some of the brand’s liqueurs, having dabbled with cocktail mixing a few years back. Hence, visiting the House of Bols, an interactive museum dedicated to the brand, was something of a priority for me – and it was an hour from closing when we got there. I had to convince Joanne: she was begging off from any further infusion of alcohol because her legs were already becoming gummi worms from all the walking. Also: because she had good judgment. Luckily, good judgment is something I normally try to sway. “But Joanne,” I said, “€12 won’t even get you a good cocktail in Europe… this is €12 for a tour with a FREE cocktail AND two shots of your choice. Drinking MORE alcohol cures hangovers, didn’t you know? If anything, this will assure us of a good night’s coma.”

“No,” she said.

“But we will only get this one chance to do this. Let’s just go. You can hate me later.”

“I already hate you now.”

“OK, then you can hate me more later.”

“I’ll do that, too.” I’ll even Van Gogh your ear off while you sleep tonight.

“Oh, look who can now pronounce Van Gogh like a real Dutch girl…”

“What? How did you hear that? I just thought that sentence to myself… the italics should have made that clear. I still hate you, you know? For the record, I’m not going with you anywhere. Go ahead if you want…”


… intense stare-off…


“You don’t know how to get back to our hotel.”


… intense stare-off, continued…


“OK. You win. But I won’t drag your carcass to the hotel when you’re sloshed senseless.”

“Of course, you won’t… you can’t even to get back to the hotel.” Victory!

With barely an hour left, my loving girl-beard and I hobbled through the exhibits, learning about the history of Lucas Bols (itself the oldest active Dutch company), the multi-sensory process in developing liqueur, as well as the Dutch national drink, genever (another Bols specialty).

Although popular in the Netherlands and its neighboring countries, genever is hardly known elsewhere. Genever is a traditional liquor derived from malt and flavored with juniper berries. A more popular liquor that is infused with juniper is gin – not surprising because ‘genever’ literally means ‘juniper’ in some European languages. Gin, in fact, historically evolved from genever (Pinoys, familiarly enough, also refer to gin by a Spanish term, ‘ginebra’). Genever is either ‘young’ (jonge jenever) or ‘old’ (oude jenever), referring not to maturity, but to new versus traditional distillation techniques. Old genever contains more malt, and has a taste comparable to whiskey (especially when aged); while young genever contains more grain alcohol, thus tasting more neutral, like gin or vodka. The major distinctions probably end there, but one should know that either type will get you hammered pretty bad, as genever typically has high alcohol content. Genever is served cold in shot glasses. Thus, to avoid spilling the precious liquid, it is customary for drinkers to first bend over and skim off a small amount using their mouths. The term they used at Bols was ‘slurping’ – slurping Bols? Too easy… I sure wish I came up with it!

So here’s your bloggist, just after slurping some Bols: Old Bols on the left, Young Bols on the right.

The interactive sections of the museum encouraged visitors to apply their senses, particularly through taste strips and a long array of flavor sniffers.

So here’s your bloggist, passionately sniffing some Bols.

Through all this, it seemed as if bone-tired Joanne was lightening up a bit. Here she is with some kind of vintage apparatus:

These stills can never distill contempt purer such as this that I feel for you presently.

At the end of the tour, we went to the bar to claim our free drinks. I chose a yogurt-based one called a Snowy Owl for Joanne, and an aged Mai Tai for me – both fruity, thank you very much. For all her protestations, here we find a rather chirpy girl-beard in the midst of sweet liquid pleasure:

“Dammit, this yogurt thing is so good. It’s my new favorite drink, I think. YES, it is my new favorite drink. Seriously, I can’t stop! I’m going to finish this. Take a picture! Take a picture!”

Well, if you’re so keen on it…

(I am sorry to everyone who received this on Facebook).


If you want the violent and hungover CONTINUATION, please click here.

If you missed what happened immediately before, please click this.

If you want to rewind back to the start of the Amsterdam write-ups, please click this instead.

If you want to go through past TRAVEL pieces, please go here.

If you want to visit stuff about FOOD, please go here.

Categories: [food], [travel]

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