The Shallow Man once had a brief and pointless relationship in Amsterdam, with a lady who like the aftermath of eating drop, left a bitter taste in my mouth. In fact, the only good thing I can remember from our brief affair was that she introduced me to a cocktail bar that I frequent to this day, Door 74, which brings me to the subject of today’s post.
Door 74 you’ve probably walked past it
Somewhere in the centre of Amsterdam is one of the finest cocktails bars in the city. It has no sign on the door or anything that would hint that a bar is based there. Entrance is only possible by making a reservation on the day that you intend to visit. Once behind that door, you enter a chic looking bar that wouldn’t be out of place in Hong Kong, Melbourne or Singapore.
How to ensure a civilised atmosphere
The first thing to know about this bar is that they have several rules to ensure a sociable, and cordial atmosphere.
No hunting the Antelopes or Lions
Good news for all of the handsome men out there, Door 74 has a clear no bothering policy. If you want to enjoy a pleasant evening without being interrogated by an Antelope on heat, then this is the place to go. Likewise, ladies, you can chill and enjoy an evening with your female friends without being accosted by horny Lions looking to have their fur (or any other body parts) stroked.
No phone calls
Have you ever sat in a bar when next to you a woman is shouting into her phone “AGNIESZKA I TOLD YOU IT’S IN THE CUPBOARD NEXT TO THE STAIRS!!!” she then proceeds to complain to her friend that the Polish nanny is just not up to scratch. To prevent this, and to preserve a civilised ambience another rule of the bar is that phone calls can only be made at the wardrobe, a godsend for those of us who don’t like hearing other peoples domestic lives played out within earshot.
To everyone that complains about the quality of service in Amsterdam, Door 74 will come as a bit of shock. From the moment you enter, you are treated like a VIP. The staff are friendly. Not US style, “I’m going to be friendly to you because otherwise you’re not going to leave a tip and I’m going to have to eat rats for dinner again” kind of way. The Shallow Man can tell when people are being genuine, and from the first time I visited Door 74 with my passive aggressive, neurotic former fling, I was impressed at the friendliness of the staff. This has remained consistent over the years and friends that have visited the bar have shared the same views.
So on a Thursday evening, the Shallow Man, in spite of having to get out of bed the following day at 5.25 am to host a radio show, decided to visit Door 74 for a quick drink. I hadn’t been there for some time, and after the customary warm greeting, a friendly and knowledgeable waitress spent considerable time running through the various cocktails available including the special of the day. I opted for the Let’s Conquer Space! Which consisted of rye whisky, fresh pineapple, lemon, orgeat syrup, Dale Degroff pimento bitters and Romain Guistel brut Champagne. It was even better than it sounds. We then proceeded to order the special of the day, of which I’ll provide a photo of below.
The cocktail selection is huge. All are originals creations of the bar, they are also able to provide cocktails on request if the extensive list is not to your liking. Here’s a sample of some of the cocktails on offer. The complete menu can be found here.
Along with some mellow music, the crowd were a mixture of Amsterdammers and people from out of town, way out town, New York in particular, plus some couples. The interior design of Door 74 enables the traditional sitting at the bar, along with intimate booths for two as well as group seating.
Several incredible cocktails later (discipline is not my strong point) the Shallow Man headed home, happier than a footballers wife at a divorce court.
I hadn’t visited Door 74 for some time and after a fabulous evening, there had to ask myself why that was. Like Marley’s ghost, (Bob not the Dickens character) I’ll definitely be haunting Door 74 more often in future. If you have friends visiting and want to impress them with an upmarket bar that has great service, cocktails and a vibrant and attractive crowd, then this is the place for you. Better still, join the Shallow Man for a cocktail there.
Since writing this article, I’m pleased to hear that Esquire magazine the Netherlands have voted Door 74 as the best cocktail bar in the Netherlands. Congratulations to the team at Door 74 for their well-deserved prize.
No US-based “we live from our tips” waiters or waitresses were hurt during the writing of this post.