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Drink List 2

The 12 best bars in Amsterdam

Centuries-old tavern or ultra-stylish rooftop lounge? The choice is yours in our pick of the best bars in Amsterdam

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Written by
Christina Newberry
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A night out in Amsterdam is one of the world’s great travel experiences. Not convinced? Visitors to this famous city have been stopping for a drink or three since the 1600s when sailors and traders alike exchanged tales over tipples before going their separate ways. The Dutch capital’s sightseeing options are among the best on the continent, but the best bars in Amsterdam keep the fun going late into the night.

Amsterdam’s eclectic soul shines brightest in its bars, where the traditional taverns of yesteryear sidle up to sleek lounges, hyper-stylish cocktail bars and craft breweries that continue this city’s proud history of revolution and innovation. You don’t need too much of a reason to stop for a drink in Amsterdam, and these bars should be high on your must-see list.

Drank somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDrinkList. You can also find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews bars.

Best bars in Amsterdam

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Old Side

Walking into this classy speakeasy-style bar, you feel like you’ve entered a secret clubhouse. Close to the centre but tucked away enough to avoid the tourist crowds, Hiding in Plain Sight richly rewards those who walk through the corner door. With its inventive cocktails, knowledgeable bartenders and lounge-style seating, it’s a truly delightful place to spend an evening – whether solo or with friends. Reserve for groups of four or more.

De Druif
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Nanne O.

2. De Druif

‘The Grape’ has been quenching locals’ thirst on this spot for at least 400 years. It boasts a liquor licence that dates back to 1631 and is rumoured to have served departing sailors as far back as the 1580s. With wooden casks lining the walls and plenty of earthenware jenever bottles behind the bar, De Druif feels like a glimpse into Amsterdam’s past.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Oost (East)

This tasting room in an old bathhouse at the base of Amsterdam’s largest windmill serves Belgian-inspired beers brewed on site for more than 30 years. You’ll find Brouwerij ’t IJ’s beers on menus all over town (and a new second tasting room at Het Blauwe Theehuis in Vondelpark). But it’s worth visiting the original outpost for a tour, a tasting flight or to soak up the sun on the large terrace with the windmill overhead. Note the hours of 2pm-8pm.

Up in trendy Amsterdam Noord, Pllek is a bar, beach and restaurant that also hosts outdoor summer film screenings and live electronic music. Hop on the free ferry at Amsterdam Centraal to reach this throbbing hangout and settle in with a couple of beers or glass of rosé on the sand. When the sun goes down, retreat under the disco ball in the huge industrial-chic space with rows of windows overlooking the IJ river.

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Curate your own wine tasting at this friendly bar that describes itself as ‘candy store for adults’. Load some euros on a ‘wine card’ at the counter, then mosey around the room and tap it at the dispensers that line the walls to taste from up to 100 bottles in serving sizes from just a sip up to 150ml. Wines are categorised by flavour profile, with a wide range of price points and regions represented. 

Named after writer Charles Bukowski, this neighbourhood hangout near Oosterpark is dedicated to liquor and literature. The former appears in classic, no-tricks cocktails and a well-rounded beer list, while the latter is embodied in a typewriter-inspired light installation above the bar and plenty of Bukowski quotes on the menu. Bar Bukowski feels like the neighbourhood’s living room: settle into one of the front tables in the mezzanine for an unbeatable street view. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Waterfront and North

Grab a seat one of this waterfront spot’s bright picnic tables and you’ll instantly feel like you’re on holiday. Boats pull up to the dock, swimmers jump in for a dip and locals meet to drink, chat and soak up the friendly vibes as the sun goes down. During winter, the party moves into a cottage-like space made from salvaged materials and heated by a large fireplace.

This buzzy cocktail bar smack in the centre of Amsterdam is racking up global award nominations. Co-owner Tess Posthumus has been nominated four years running for the best international bartender at the Spirited Awards, and she shows off her mixologist chops here with a focus on classic cocktails based on recipes up to 400 years old. Spirit connoisseurs, take note: there are more than 500 bottles behind the softly-lit bar.

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Sure, you’ll run into plenty of tourists here, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a seat next to the soaring windows or out on the terrace for truly unbeatable views over Amsterdam. The lounge is only 11 stories up but, in a flat city like this one, that’s practically skyscraper territory. From high-top tables to dark banquette corners, you’ll find the right setting for whatever kind of evening you’ve got in mind.

This former polder pump station in leafy Flevopark looks like a church from a distance but is actually a jenever distillery with a setting that couldn’t be prettier. Set on a quiet lake, ’t Nieuwe Diep has a gorgeous terrace for summer and a cosy tasting room for winter. If classic jenever is too harsh for your palate, try the unique fruit versions made with plum, apple, berries or citrus. The bar closes early, so check the website for seasonal hours.

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Housed in The Hoxton hotel, Lotti’s is all leather sofas, patterned armchairs, exposed brick and warm wooden floors. With a retractable glass roof and USB charging ports at most tables, it’s a hip and happening spot for a cocktail or glass of wine that’ll no doubt end up on Instagram. Local DJs turn things up a notch on the weekends, while a tucked-away photobooth adds a touch of retro fun.

Strolling through the Dappermarkt in Amsterdam East, it’s easy to miss this charming wine bar. But as the market stalls start to close, the yellow awning at Alex + Pinard opens and the terrace tables appear, letting the neighbourhood know it’s time to gather for a glass or a bottle from the extensive wine list featuring boutique European producers. The small, seasonal menu of shareable dishes provides the perfect complement to your tipple.

And if it’s top-notch food you’re after?

The 15 best restaurants in Amsterdam
  • Restaurants

Though Amsterdam doesn’t have a particularly distinguished culinary past, the current food scene could rival almost any city in Europe for gastronomic fun and flair. Over the past 15 years or so, an inventive wave of Dutch chefs have been updating the classics and mixing things up in the kitchen.

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