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Pub/Bar of the Month September 2012: Arendsnest, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Arendsnest, Amsterdam, Netherlands
A few years ago, an American beer magazine printed a list of 150 Perfect Places to Have a Beer.
At number 80 was Arendsnest in Amsterdam. In fact, Arendsnest was also on the list at number 90 – a little production glitch probably, or just maybe, like New York, it was so good they named it twice.
Whatever the reason for this double entry, there was no doubt that this was a bar worth visiting, so I made sure I did so on my last visit to The Netherlands.
Arendsnest translates as 'eagle's nest' and is a play on the name of its founder, Peter van der Arend. Peter's family ran a hotel in Delft and hospitality flows through his blood.
Discovering a passion for beer in the early 1990s, he became active in PINT, the Dutch equivalent of CAMRA, and then went to work for Jopen, a small brewery in Harlem, just outside Amsterdam.
He soon realised that what he really wanted was his own bar, where he could go to town with his love of fine beer, and Arendsnest was born.
Amsterdam is full of good bars these days and many of the best ones can be found well away from the seedy red light district or the crush of Damm Square.
When the stag weekenders are on the prowl and the city seems fit to burst with tourists, it's a delight to break away into the backwaters and stroll up one of the genteel canalsides.
Touch of Class
Arendsnest stands on the Herengracht canal and offers a touch of class. It, too, can get busy, but it's nowhere near as boisterous as the bars in the very centre.
Its distinctive striped green-and-white canopy shades two picture windows that reflect the slow movements of the water below. Alongside, a modest entrance is reached by a short flight of steps.
Inside, it's all pale wood panelling, chandeliers and retro-style brewery advertising. The ceiling is high and, though the single room is long and narrow, it's also light and airy. Potted plants add a splash of greenery.
The servery takes up most of the left hand wall and is dominated by an impressive, mirrored bar-back that twinkles with bottles of Dutch spirits and also houses a row of beer taps. Including those on the front counter, there are 30 taps in all.
Fridges are well stocked with enticing bottles, blackboards reveal the draught beers on sale and the selection is entirely Dutch, which gives the lie to the suggestion that the only good beers in The Netherlands come from over the Belgian border.
Jopen has its name displayed most prominently but the choice here is extensive and intriguing.
This is beer café culture with polish: from the surroundings, you could almost as easily be spooning in coffee and cake in a Viennese hotel as sipping a beer from Molen, Texels or La Trappe, but there's no mistaking the commitment to beer (they even host beer tasting events).
If the madding crowds at the heart of the city lead to you to demand somewhere more sophisticated, Arendsnest is certainly worth a visit – or two.
Arendsnest, Herengracht 90, 1015BS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tel. +31 (020) 421 20 57
Opening Hours: 4pm–midnight; 4pm–2am Friday; 2pm–2am Saturday; 2pm–midnight Sunday