What Is Door 74?
The people working here are consummate professionals at creating a memorable experience for their patrons. They also happen to make the best cocktails in town. With a humble hint of posh and without an ounce of pretension, the atmosphere reminds me of what I imagine old New York must have been like. And I'm thrilled it's made a refreshing arrival here.
So arrange a reservation (see below) and be discreet as you ring the tiny doorbell. The rest is taken care of.
How to Make Reservations at Door 74Only same-day reservations are accepted. Between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., call +31 (0)63 404 51 22 and leave a voice message with your name, the number in your party and the time you'd like to arrive. Someone will return your call shortly thereafter.
After 8 p.m., send a text message to the same number; someone will return the message.
Reservations placed before 8 p.m. have priority. My advice is to call as early as you can in the day.
Arriving at Door 74A gracious hostess will welcome you through a black-velvet curtain, take your coat and show you to your reserved black-leather booth or seats at the dark-wood bar.
Ice water, mixed nuts and plump olives of such a vibrant green that they look unripe (they're delicious) arrive before you've even finished checking out the gunmetal-colored tin-tiled ceiling, gleaming above modern ball-shaped chandeliers. You won't see the bottom of your water glass or the nibbles tray for the rest of the evening.
And as you sit back to marvel at the menu and snicker at the witty house rules (which include the Golden Rule: Behave as ladies and gentlemen), you'll try to name that Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck tune.
Making Sense of the MenuFirst things first: read the entire menu. Then read it again. Ask your server or one of the mixologists for advice if you're confused or just want a suggestion. They will be more than happy to oblige and will revel in the opportunity to educate you about their passion: excellent liquors, rare spirits, world-class bubbly and how best to enjoy all of them, whether mixed or served solo.
Sipping SeasonallyWhat impressed me most on my first visit to Door 74 was the level of detail with which drinks are designed. The menu changes with the seasons, and as such, ingredients celebrate the time of year. My first cocktail, a bone-warming wintry mix, included a French nut liqueur and a rich chocolate spirit from Austria.
As I write this, I've just enjoyed a spring cocktail called the "William & Mary," named for a 17th-century royal relationship that marries Dutch jenever with English elderflower syrup. The same menu's "Southside Royal" mingles gin, strawberry liqueur and Champagne with fresh mint, while a simpler "Gimlet Option" made my mouth sing spring with cucumber-lime syrup.
I think the seasonal cocktails are the stars here (all € 10 each).
Something for Everyone, Even a Little Art and HistoryWhile I recommend sampling at least one of the seasonal specials, the menu includes plenty of other libations. Explore international and exotic flavors with Tasting Flights of spirits like rum, tequila or the often-confused cousins bourbon and whisk(e)y.
Old-schoolers will appreciate a Manhattan, an Old-Fashioned, a Dark & Stormy or just a really good Gin & Tonic (made with the coveted Fentimans, of course).
And for those fond of bubbles, Door 74 prides itself on carefully selected non-vintage and rare vintage Champagnes.
You'll find as you delve into the menu that you're enjoying sips of history, made even richer if you take the time to chat with the experts behind the bar. Mixing is an art form to them and it's seen, heard and tasted.
Door 74 Practical Details
Address: Reguliersdwarsstraat 74, Amsterdam
Phone: +31 (0)63 404 51 22
Bar open: Tuesday - Saturday, 8 p.m. - 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m.
Trams: Line 4, 9, 16, 24 or 25 to Muntplein stop (head south down Vijzelstraat, east on Reguliersdwarsstraat).
Service: Attentiveness is unmatched by any bar in Amsterdam.
Scene/décor: Subtle swank combined with relaxed elegance.
Attire: Sophisticated and polished (no t-shirts or sporty shoes).
Payment: Accepts major credit cards.