Located down a side street adjacent to Amsterdam’s Dam Square is a true imbibers gem.
Wynand Fockink is so much more than what meets the eye. The average person might stumble on this tiny watering hole, look through its window, chat about how cute it looks and then walk on without realizing what they’re leaving behind.
To cross the threshold here is a bit like falling through Alice’s rabbit hole. Established in 1679, the crew at Wynand Fockink still do things the way they were done all those centuries ago.
Way back then, many of Amsterdam’s bars were actually distilleries with a tasting room and a shop attached. Given the success of the Dutch East Indies Trading Company (VOC), Amsterdam was also a hot spot for exotic fruits, herbs and spices. Put the success of the VOC and an in-house distillation program together and you have the makings for some pretty special Liqueurs. The Dutch have long been credited as the creators of Liqueurs, with sons like Lucas Bols producing them as early as 1575 in a distillery called ‘t Lootsje (Little Shed).
At Wynand Fockink they still produce their own Jenever (Genever), Liqueurs and Tinctures.
The still in picture is in a large room next to the bar and scttered around the same room are large glass vessels containing fruits and spices for liqueurs and tinctures.
For those not too familier with Jenever (Genever), I will briefly describe it as a wonderful spirit, produced in Holland, Belgium, two French Provinces and two Federal German States. Jenever comprises of malt and grain distillate and is subtly flavored with botanicals such as juniper berries. Some in the English speaking world refere to Jenever as Dutch Gin, but to be honest, it tastes more like a subtle, aromatic whisky than a gin.
Some of the Liqueurs infuse for a year before being moved all 15 meters to the bar where eager patrons eagerly await their arrival.
Drinking here feels a bit like claiming your little piece of history. In a weird way, you feel comforted by the fact that some bars still believe in continuing crafts and traditions of the past, regardless of what marketeers and pencil pushers claim is future of an industry they generally know so little about. I’ve had plenty of conversations with corporate people who claim that unless a bar looks and feels 21st century, it won’t work in the 21st century.
Bars work because they provide an experience and a sound level of service. A great experience will last the test of time, while fancy coat of paint on the walls will last as long as that coat.
Wynant Fockink was established in 1679 and I sincerely hope it’ll be around for the next 332 years, reminding us that sometimes simply doing the basics well will always see the light of a new day.