Previously published on The Travel Project by Contiki:
Okay, so when my roomie, April, told me that there was a cocktail museum in Amsterdam that she wanted to visit because her friend told her that they give you a shot to take and it goes funky in your mouth and changes flavour, I was a bit weirded out. She mentioned this seemingly crazy place a few times in the lead up to our arrival in the Netherlands, and was very excited to hunt out this mystical cocktail museum with the crazy shots.
When we found ourselves with a free day in Amsterdam, April was set on finding this museum. I was apprehensive, but agreed to go along so as not to break the roomie bond and wander the city alone.
So that’s how I found myself at the House of Bols. The museum is located in a prime position, just near Park Museumplein, which is the large green expanse in the middle of the ‘museum district’ of Amsterdam. Close by is the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (just to name a few of the sights), so you really could spend a whole day in the area and museum hop from one place to the other.
Also of note is the I Amsterdam sign, which is right between the Rijksmuseum and Park Museumplein and is unmissable due to the flock of tourists scrabbling to take a photo with it. Because, really, have you even been to Amsterdam if you haven’t sat on the sign and snapped a selfie?
But I digress!
So, we found this museum, which is in quite a cute old building, and stepped inside. It opens at 1pm daily and we were right on time, so we entered as the first guests of the day!
We paid for our tickets (regular ticket for €16,00) and were handed an audio guide, a little vial of bright pink liquid and a token to use at the bar at the end of the museum. Then we walked down a small staircase and into the first room, the History room.
The History section gives visitors some background on what exactly genever and gin are, and the history of Lucas Bols, who manufactured genever (and founded House of Bols).
After this, visitors are invited to step into a small room/cubicle and close the door – I swear it’s not as scary as it sounds – and drink the liquid in the vial. What follows is the Art of Flavour experience, which I won’t ruin by describing in detail. I will say that it is very cool, and I loved it! This was the crazy taste-changing part of the experience which April had mentioned, and though it sounds bizarre, it is awesome and really makes this museum experience unique! What happens in the little room makes evident to visitors the effect of external factors on how one experiences alcohol, and it’s really eye-opening and fun!
The Hall of Taste is next, in which there is a rainbow-coloured wall and a series of different smells to ‘taste’. Again, this room challenges our perception of the senses and causes visitors to rethink how they experience flavour.
Next up is the Ingredient Room, in which a range of different ingredients are on display for visitors to smell and consider. This room gives insight into the different flavours which may be added in order to change the experience of a drink, and how these ingredients may also impact the aroma of alcohol.
Finally, the Genever Room provides some more history of the iconic alcohol, including a video presentation. This section is dimly lit and complete with old-fashioned couches, giving the sense of being in a classy historic bar.
Once visitors have finished perusing through the various rooms and sensory experiences of the museum, they are invited upstairs to the Mirror Bar, which is swanky and modern and entirely classy. Here, one can browse and extensive list of cocktails or even create their own! A cocktail is included in the ticket price, and further cocktails are offered at a discounted rate. The bar is super stylish and is the perfect way to complete a tour of the cocktail museum!
The whole premise of the House of Bols Museum is brilliant – it is a fun, colourful and interactive experience which is truly unique, and thus visitors are immersed in exhibits. The museum really does achieve its goal in forcing visitors to rethink alcohol, in that it is not only a drink, but an experience which appeals to senses other than just taste. The whole layout of the museum lends towards this sensory experience – it is absolutely bursting with colours and every turn invites visitors to experience an array of new and familiar smells – and the classy bar and free cocktail at the end do add to the fun of it all!
The House of Bols also offers cocktail workshops and liqueur tastings, so there is plenty to do and experience here.
Thank you, April, for the awesome experience!
Address: Paulus Potterstraat 14, 1071 CZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Entry cost: regular ticket (inc. free cocktail) is €16,00*
Duration: approx. one hour
Note: you must be 18 years or over to enter the museum