Where the Gravenstraat, Eggertstraat and Blaeustraat meet, you can find one of the oldest distillery tasting houses in the city, Proeflokaal De Drie Fleschjes (Tasting House The Three Small Bottles). Located at the base of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), at Gravenstraat 18, it was founded by the Bootz distillery around 1650 — the tavern was meant to allow customers a taste of the different liqeurs on sale. A wall of casks (many adopted by companies and individuals) showcases the available blends.
A liqueur is an alcoholic drink composed of spirits and additional flavorings such as sugar, fruits, herbs, and spices. They are the historical descendants of herbal medicines, made in Italy as early as the 13th century, often prepared by monks. Tin measuring cups were once used to fill the (then costly) glass bottles which customers brought themselves. A wall of casks like this was called a drankorgel (drinks organ) — the casks would be tapped regularly, to gauge by the sound how much liquid they still contained. Drankorgel is also an expression used from the 19th century on to describe a seasoned boozer.
Turkeys & Walk in the Woods
Small bottles called kalkoentjes (turkeys) or burgemeestersflesjes (mayors’ bottles), some with portraits of Amsterdam’s mayors, line the shelves (they originally came from tasting tavern Wynand Fockink). The floors are still covered with sand, like in the 17th century. It’s definitely worth a visit, not just for the tradtional Corenwijn (grain wine) or special liqueurs, but also because of the wonderful atmosphere and impeccable old-fashioned service on the terrace. Inside you can sip a traditional jenever (Dutch gin), or go for one of the 35 different liqueurs.
One of the most succesful mixes which the Drie Fleschjes serves is called De Boswandeling (Walk In The Woods) — 3/4 wodka, 1/4 triple sec, with a dash of angostura. They also serve Gulpener beer (from the province of Limburg) and special seasonal beers, as well as good wines and traditional drinking snacks like ossenworst (ox sausage), meatballs and Beemster cheese with mustard.
Grand Opening in 1650
It is said that at the opening of the tavern on June 29, 1650, many important people of the time were present: poet Jacob Cats, painters Jan Steen and Rembrandt van Rijn, scientists Constantijn Huygens and his son Christiaan, the Bicker family (who owned Bickerseiland), young Baruch de Spinoza, seafarers Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter and Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp. Herring was served with the liquor.
The distillery and tasting room were bought by Bootz in 1816. They renovated in 1888 and became a real factory, adding distilling vessels with a capacity up to 3,600 liter (951 gallon). Until 1956 the distillery and tasting house were owned by the Bootz family, after that distiller Bols became the owner. In the 1980s Bols stopped distilling in the Bootz Distillery and in 1989 the old distillery was made into a hotel.
The Gravenstraat (Counts Street), next to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), runs between Nieuwendijk (New Dike) and Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal (New Side Before the Wall). The street name dates from the period between 1299 and 1345, when the counts of Hainaut stayed at an inn here when they came to Amsterdam. At Gravenstraat corner with the Eggertstraat is bakery lunchroom De Drie Graefjes (The Three Counts). Between the Eggertstraat and Blaeu Erf, at current number 22, there used to be a Latin School, which later became the Barlaeus Gymnasium when they moved to Weteringschans 29 in 1885.
Website De Drie Fleschjes: http://www.dedriefleschjes.nl/
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