Educational Alcohol Drinking: “House of Bols” Tour


The House of Bols. I’ll be honest, we had never heard of the Bols brand and didn’t really know what to expect from an “interactive tour of cocktails”, but when you are chilly from your canal tour and the entrance price (less than $15 USD) includes a cocktail and 2 Genever shots, well then, it’s definitely a good idea.

The whole idea of the tour was that it engaged all your senses– we got to experience the many different flavors with our different senses as we walked through the rooms.

The first room showed mini representations for all the breweries Bols has in Amsterdam.


We then walked through the “Sight” Room, where they explained how we associate colors and looks with specific flavors. When watching a video and trying a non-flavored flavor strip, we were able to taste the flavor we were looking at on the TV screen, just because our vision and taste buds are linked.

For “Taste”, We then had to plug our noses, close our eyes, and taste little flavored strips (like in the box below the A sign). With just your taste, you had to guess the flavor. We tasted (and correctly guessed) Anise and Lemon.

Then came the “Smell” room. A full hallway of bottles to spritz, each with its own very unique, hard-to-guess smell/flavor. Each flavor was hidden behind the number– we tried ones like Green Tea, Lychee, Bailey’s…my nose was very confused by the end.

There was a whole section on the history of Bols. It’s the oldest still-active Dutch distillery, created back in 1575.

The original recipe for Bols Genever dates back to 1820.

If you can read Dutch, here are all the secrets to Genever!

We then got to sniff the different types of Genever and see the different grains /procedures they use– maltwine grain, aged, infused….honestly, they all smelled like nail polish remover to me.

More secret recipes. Here it says, “In the 18th Century, a competitor stole some secret Bols liqueur and genever recipes. When Lucas Bols bought the rival company 100 years later, they recovered this recipe book. To this day, the old recipes form the basis of the Bols liqueurs and genevers and are still the best kept Bols secret around.”

Then came the best part- free alcohol! We got to pick out our favorite cocktail on a screen…

Then watch them make it for us 🙂

So, of course, we couldn’t resist and got more than our 1 free cocktail.

Unfortunately, for a short person like me, my cocktail was so tall I could barely reach it on the high table! Dutch people are much too tall in general.

 I got a pomegranate one, Anni got a “Dutch” and stormy.

We then got our 2 free genever shots– tried some fun flavors like elderflower, lychee, amaretto, and white chocolate peppermint.

We loitered around and made friends with Dutch, Danes, Canadians, and Brits…

Then drank some more!


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