Saturday, October 23, 2010


After breakfast in a castle in Porto (some pretzels, really) and lunch in Geneva, we're in Amsterdam, eating some sort of unidentifiable fritter... thing. It's not bad considering how dodgy everything looks around here.

Not that we're after a gourmet experience. We're just lining our stomachs before heading to our next stop: Vesper, a cocktail bar that has gotten a lot of buzz for serving up top notch cocktails in a cool, relaxed setting.

We get there and it's almost surprising to see that it is indeed cool and relaxed. I'd been getting used to hugely deceptive online reviews from ignorant Americans.

The barman tells us that it's last call, which is disappointing, but less disappointing than being told to go away.

With only one drink I want it to be a good one. I ask him what he would recommend. He extracts from me that I want something rum based and I find myself drinking a rum manhattan or something like that. Two types of rum, some red vermouth, a few drops of something secret and a twist of orange zest and it's there. It's awesome. Really, really awesome.

It's a quiet night so he chats with us about where we've been, what we do, Amsterdam, things like that. Risking the friendship, the drinking companion asks if we could possibly, maybe, have one more drink. He says okay and life is good.

This time something gin based is what we're after and he recommends the Vesper martini. It's freakin' good. A perfect balance of flavours. He tells us the history of the drink and it's origins in James Bond.

We drink that and talk more about things like the economy, super-yachts, smoking laws.

It’s so good that we decide to come back the next night.

We decide to go for the luxury cocktails, since you only live once. The Goldfinger—Remy Martin XO, Billecart-Salmon Brut NV and gold leaf—is good (and just under 40 euros), but it’s the old-fashioned that is the real winner.

We also have to have the Zombie, which is normally a godawful rendition of a tiki drink packed with so much terrible rum that you get sick more from the taste than the 4 types of rum that the recipe calls for.

But here, it’s excellent. Good rum helps, but so do the small touches that are added in like fresh passionfruit and a little (I think) cayenne pepper. It’s so strong that they make you sign a contract saying that you’ll only have two of them. Which is cruel, because it’s tremendously addictive.

And even though our friend from the night before isn’t behind the bar this night, the rest of the staff are still very much cut from the friendly/cool/unpretentious mould.

An excellent place to visit if you like cocktails in a cool/relaxed setting.

Things that Sydney needs #42098: This.


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