A Drink Pro’s Guide to Amsterdam

Carl Nolet Jr., an 11th-generation Dutch vodka distiller, shares the best of Amsterdam

A Drink Pro's Guide to Amsterdam


For 325 years, Carl Nolet Jr.’s family has crafted Ketel One vodka in the Dutch village of Schiedam. Today, a Nolet still tastes every batch that travels through the copper coils and pots. Growing up, the 11th-generation distiller made routine trips to Amsterdam with his family, a tradition he continues with his wife and seven kids (yes, seven, you read that right).

It’s a small world
“Holland is tiny. You can drive it east to west in two hours. Also tiny: the Madurodam, above, a park filled with miniature models of Dutch towns. We have an annual pass, and it’s only a 50-minute drive from Amsterdam. The village of Kinderdijk is about an hour away from the city, too. There, you can bike along rows of gorgeous windmills.”

Pickled fish
“When I’m out of the country, I crave foods from the North Sea— especially the herring and onions served by vendors at the Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam.”

Art that must be experienced
“You cannot visit Amsterdam without going to the big art institutions—the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum—both of which are next door to the neo-Gothic Conservatorium hotel. But also try NEMO, a hands-on science and technology center where you can, for example, learn how DNA, lightning, and Holland’s dike system work. My kids always ask to go back here.”

Family fun
“If you and your kids are fans of roller coasters, visit Drievliet, an amusement park in the Hague. For some reason, it’s never overly crowded.”

Rock the boat
“For easy boat access, stay at the Waldorf Astoria, a newer hotel that was constructed out of six ginormous canal houses. For dinner, have your concierge book a private boat and a different restaurant for each course. Waiters will serve you on board. I often stop at the Harbour Club, which serves a Dutch tomahawk steak that is big enough to feed my entire family.”

While the young ones sleep
“The speakeasy-like Door 74 is my favorite for modern cocktails, but for something old-school, try Café Oosterling, which opened in 1877. It’s a typical stamkroeg, a bar filled with regulars who follow a certain etiquette: Keep it quiet, limit yourself to two drinks, then go home.”

>>Next: AFAR’s Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam

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