Our last stop in Amsterdam was a at Tales and Spirits, a romantically dim bar that serves creative cocktails with a splash of showmanship. When you visit Tales and Spirits, be aware that they have rules, and one should abide by them. You are seated by the host, and table service is provided. No milling about or other unclassy behavior.
When I was here, I tried a genever (also called jenever, genièvre, peket or Dutch gin) straight up which is supposed to taste like gin. The one I tried was aged in barrels and had taken on more of a woody and smoky sweet flavor as opposed to a brighter herbalicious flavor.
All patrons are served a snack of lentil chips with housemade chutney. The concoction that night included pineapple, allspice, ginger, and chiles. The humble bartender who created it refused to tell me much else about it, but at least I have a flavor profile to use as a starting point.
If you’re looking for cocktails that are equally a visual treat as they are a flavor and aroma treat, try the Zombie or the Smoke and Mirrors.
The Zombie is a Tiki style drink that serves two for 15 euros. It boasts four different types of rums, pineapple, lime, and grapefruit juice alone with falernum, cinnamon syrup, passion fruit, absinthe, and bitters served in a giant zombie tiki mug that is about the size of your head. A halved passion fruit filled with rum is set on top of the drink which is then set on fire. Then the entire thing is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon that creates a personal bartop fireworks display. I’d get this again just to watch it being made.
The Smoke and Mirrors was a bit more mysterious in nature. It includes Ketel One vodka, Martini Gran Lusso vermouth, Pierre Ferrand dry Curaçao, strawberry-basil shrub, olive oil and rosemary presented in a cake dome filled with smoke. The drink was sweet and aromatic with the smoke and rosemary. I kind of can’t get over the presentation though.
And lastly, if you feel like you have too many euros to spare, there’s a cocktail on the menu that will help you lighten your wallet. For 225 euros, you can get “the way it was,” a cocktail with Bacardi "Ron de Maestro" MMXII vintage rum, Wildflower honey, Original Abbott's bitters (100+ years old), and orange zest. The bartender commented that it was the Original Abbott’s bitters that was the pricey ingredient of this cocktail at something like 50 euros a drop or something. You can purchase a recreation of Abbott’s bitters now for just $34 for 100 ml. I can’t tell you whether or not it will be comparable to the original though.