Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The house of bols

I happened on the house of bols experience by accident whilst looking for a cafe after visiting the Rijksmuseum.

What they offer is a cocktail/genever experience, since bols are one of those companies who have become linked to a product (Blue curacao) I figured it might be interesting to take a look.

It was a pretty quiet day when I visited, which meant I could spend as long as I liked over the exhibits. Most of it is given over to interactive stuff, some in the first room linked to history snippets from lucas bols and the items in the central display case (I missed out on the mixed manhatten in a cocktail shaker product, I don't know how). Just after this come their signature "dutch house" minatures, that are made for KLM, apparently there is quite a collectors market for them.

Much more involving though are the exhibits about the senses, we whiled away a fairly happy time in this bit, trying to guess liquers & generally having a bit of fun. After this they try to sell you their 1820 genever, what do you expect ? It's a distillery experience after all (I've nothing against the 1820 at all, but I make very few genever cocktails, its too sweet to substitute for ordinary (london/dry) gin).

Your ticket includes a cocktail at their bar. This is pretty impressive, they have a set of touch screens that guide you to a cocktail that you might like and then prints out the recipe for you to hand to their bartender. The machines are quite useful since they allow to make as many choices as you want and happily spit out numerous recipes. The bartender however will only make one.

The bartender (at least the one I met) is a pretty knowledgable chap an on a slow thrusday was more than happy to spend time discussing booze (and recommending places to drink). He mixed 2 good cocktails, a holland house and a butterscotch.

Sorry about the lighting, the mirrors somewhat confused the primitive brain in my camera.

I eventually tore myself away from the bar, only to be confronted with the shop. And what a shop, ok there is a lot of branded stuff, but there is also a shelf full of books, including many classics (and a couple of scarily priced originals), of course my wallet only just survived, and was on triage for a while.

My experience was great, I'd happily go back and it represented reasonable Value for Money, but then there were maybe 20 people in the "experience" whilst I was there, it might not stack up so well when its full. I'm also a big cocktail fan, so there was a lot of stuff I found intriguing. I'd recommend it, but remember its all about booze.

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