House of Bols
HOUSE OF BOLS
House of Bols: Liquor Tasting in a Museum
The Museum Square in Amsterdam is where most of the famous and tourist-packed museums are located. Here is the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and others that you, as a visitor of Amsterdam, will undeniably visit.
Perhaps you did not now that Amsterdam is also home to some of the most unconventional museums besides the obvious historical and arts-related ones. In fact, just a couple of steps from this square, you can find one of the most unusual location – the House of Bols. It is the official museum of one of the oldest brands for distilled spirits in the world – Lucas Bols.
What is so interesting in a museum for alcoholic drinks, you may ask? The answer is simple. Like in many other of the unusual Amsterdam museums, you can actually experience everything by tasting and trying it rather than simply looking at objects and reading about them.
Fortunately, House of Bols is now officially a part of the Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket program which, of course, means that it has an amazing experience attached to its name. Besides the other incredible features that are included in the ticket, you can now take a friend or relative to House of Bols with you for free with the 2 for 1 on all tickets for this location.
With this said, let’s dive into the history of the company and all the features in the museum or, in other words, let me convince you why this place is a definite must-see.
House of Bols: The History behind the Lucas Bols Company
The history of the house, the world’s oldest distillery, began in 1575 when a Dutch family named Bols, opened a small distillery outside the city wall of Amsterdam. It was housed in a small wooden structure, which is why it was known as “het Lootsje”, a Dutch term that translated as “small shack”.
It is believed that at this time, the Bols family produced mainly liqueurs and distillates, flavored with juniper which, initially, were unsuccessful. The real popularity of their liqueurs and recognition of the brand, however, came when Lucas Bols was born in 1652.
Lucas Bols took over the running of the family business during the Dutch Golden Age when the country was a colonial power and Amsterdam was among the largest trading ports in the world. One of the main prerequisites for the rapid expansion of Bols was the relationship with the Dutch East India Company, established in 1602. The Bols family was one of the major shareholders behind the company which gave them countless opportunities.
In the 17th century, the Netherlands became a leading maritime power. Merchant ships with holds full of overseas fruits and spices marched to the port of Amsterdam. Lucas Bols, the heir of the distillery, took advantage of this abundance – he began to create liqueurs and tinctures with a wide variety of tastes and aromas. By the beginning of the 19th century, the Bols Company was already producing 300 types of alcoholic beverages.
Even today, the company continues to create brand new liquors and beverages and has continuously remained at the top in its market niche. No other brand has such an abundance of tastes and aromas, and no other brand thinks about the people that actually use their liquors as much as Lucas Bols. One good example is the relatively new Bols Foam.
In 2010, the Bols introduced something unprecedented, Bols Foam, the world’s first alcohol foam. Bols Foam is a unique patented formula that, through a specially designed pump, creates foam in seconds.
The pump is attached to the Bols Liqueur bottle. In addition to adding a new taste to any cocktail, coffee or dessert, Bols’ foam makes the presentation much better and lasts for 15 minutes before it breaks down. Bols Foam is available in two sets of three 3 x 200 ml bottles. The first set is specifically designed for cocktails and mixed drinks, and the second for desserts. Each set can provide up to 6000 ml of foam.
The Art of Aroma & Taste
The aroma is not just the perception that we feel of a drink. He is what makes every moment, every night, and every conversation, extraordinary and unforgettable. The aroma is what tickles your soul and inspires you to express your creativity and joy for life. The world cannot exist without aroma.
This is why the Bols family began to distill liqueurs in the distant 1575. Today, true to its principles, the company never ceases to experiment and create flavors that have earned it the reputation of a leading global liqueur manufacturer for years.
Bols liqueurs bring beauty, color, and soul to every cocktail, excite the senses and put a smile on their face. They were at the forefront of the 19th-century cocktail revolution and an indispensable factor in contemporary cocktail culture.
To create their new products and adapt them to classic cocktail recipes and contemporary consumer tastes, Lucas Bols now works closely with well-known names in the bartending profession. As a result of this collaboration, the brand’s portfolio covers all the flavors needed for a virtually endless cocktail menu.
THE SECRET RECIPE FOR SUCCESS. FRAGRANCE CREATION TECHNOLOGY
What Lucas Bols calls “Art of Distilling, Mixing and Blending” is based on three foundations.
First is the experience and knowledge of the company’s master distiller. The second foundation is based on authentic recipes passed down over 400 years from generation to generation and the innovative developments created by the team today. Third, but not least, the secret recipe for success is the high-quality natural ingredients used in production.
For every separate liqueur, the Bols’ distillery master has to define the exact proportions and characteristics through the use of complicated production techniques such as soaking and percolation. Of course, the company works exclusively with natural ingredients only.
After extracting them from the natural ingredients, the extracts are mixed with alcohol, water, and sugar. After mixing, it is time to combine and harmonize the flavors. In Dutch, this process is called “huwen” which means marriage in English.
Each stage of liquor production is carefully monitored by the Quality Control department. Immediately after the “marriage”, the liqueur undergoes analytical and organoleptic studies. The final products are bottled only after final approval by the laboratory.
In 2004, Lucas Bols created a revolutionary new bottle for their own line of cocktail liqueurs. This is the first bottle of its kind, designed in collaboration with bartenders. Every detail and curve involved in the design is intended for one thing only: better and more efficient cocktail making.
The ergonomically optimized bottle is specially designed for easy and quick pouring with a good grip on the flyer. Test results have shown that cocktail performance was increased by up to 33% when bartenders used this bottle compared to the old regular bottles.
Besides the shape which also makes the bottles perfect for juggling, Bols used a unique type of ink which makes it easy to read the label even at places where light is insufficient.
Everything you need to know about House of Bols Museum
A scene of the company’s history and achievements is The House of Bols in Amsterdam. The Bols House is not only a museum of brand history but also a place where visitors can touch and taste its production methods and ingredients.
The Bols Liquor Museum is located in the Museum Quarter in a rather unremarkable building: it is a modest three-story brick building in the traditional Dutch style. There is nothing left of the classic look of the Amsterdam mansion: the halls of the museum are made in modern style, the transparent glass windows are illuminated with colored lamps, and the interior uses an abundance of elements made of metal and polycarbonate.
The exhibition itself is a grand and interactive journey that engages the senses of the visitor and takes him to the world of cocktails, bartending, and liqueurs. The exhibition and experience is so unique that it won the Dutch Design Award in the museum category.
A Walkthrough of House of Bols
In the first hall of the Bols Liquor Museum in Amsterdam, visitors learn the history of the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage company, which has existed in the city since 1575. The second museum hall is completely dedicated to a collection of miniature figurines depicting traditional Dutch houses. These figures were created by Bols and filled with branded liqueur.
Passing into the third hall of the Bols Liquor Museum in Amsterdam, tourists will have the unique opportunity to taste the beverages, created by the company. A total of 38 testers of Bols liqueurs are presented to the public. Guests are invited to determine by smell what liquor is in each of the testers and then test their guess for taste.
The fourth hall is dedicated to Jenever, a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage with a rich history. In the same hall, visitors will see an old recipe for making a drink and you can even touch the ingredients from which it is prepared.
The tour of House of Bols ends in a bar located in the same building as the museum itself. Here you can taste both the main liquor recipe and its varieties: with triple sec, with berries, aromatic herbs and other additives that change the taste and color and allow you to create a variety of cocktails from it. As a souvenir, visitors can buy the company’s products in a store operating here.
Need more reasons to visit?
Bols is one of the leading producers of alcohol in the world, and this is recognized not only by tasters and critics but also by bartenders and their customers in all countries.
Needless to say, to pay a visit to a museum dedicated to the famous juniper liquor is a worthy experience for any traveler who has arrived in Amsterdam – provided that he has already reached the age of majority.
With this said, use your Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket and take a friend to House of Bols for free. Whether you are a local or a tourist, you will not be left disappointed. It is a truly refreshing experience that will enrich your knowledge on a topic that is not as common and also give you a good story to tell.
Last but not least, what better way to prepare yourself for a wild night out at one or a few of the incredible clubs included in the Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket program than with a couple of incredible cocktails? If you did not understand already, you will get to test dozens of liquors and even get to drink a cocktail for free at the end of your tour.
House of Bols may not have the longest of running hours but the beverages you will see and try will set the tone good for the upcoming night out. In the end, even if this place does not spark your interest, you still have a 2 for 1 discount, you might as well see it in person and see if it will change your opinion or not.