Let us tell you about Rosalia’s Menagerie…we’ve waited long enough.
On a recent trip to the gorgeous city of Amsterdam, we had a very clear objective in mind – to unearth the city’s best kept cocktail secrets and meet the ones who make the magic happen. Surely enough, this search eventually brought us to the doors of Rosalia’s Menagerie, tucked away by a canal in a vibrant part of town, luring in thirsty travellers with a promise of great drinks, wonderful company, and a story to take back home.
Greeted by the terribly charming Wouter, we grabbed a seat at the bar (where else?). Wouter is a master storyteller himself. Beaming with anecdotes and information about spirits, their history, the craft of cocktail, and his love for it all. Together with his colleague Lucas, they provided an unlimited supply of entertainment and banter across the bar.
The evening unfolded over quaint and quirky serves of whisky and mezcal cocktails (by now you know our taste in spirits). We left the bar thinking to ourselves that this was no ordinary cocktail bar. This was no ordinary experience. This was a legendary discovery that we are obligated to share, for the love of a great cocktail and marvellous storytelling. The narrative potential of each drink and the carefully curated artefacts, all add to the curiosity of Rosalia’s Menagerie.
Let us tell you about Rosalia’s Menagerie…we’ve waited long enough.
Rosalia’s Menagerie as a concept is modeled after the forgotten history of Amsterdam Menageries. Back in the sailing days of The Netherlands menageries/bars were very common. A menagerie is of course a collection of animals (either alive or dead) and antiques/curiosities. Sailors who came into town drank themselves silly in these bars and then didn’t have the money to pay. The solution? To promise the barkeep to bring something interesting back from their travels the next time they were in town. That’s how most bars collected live animals and curiosities to put on display and became menageries!
The most famous one at that time was a menagerie called Blauwe Jan. Rosalia’s Menagerie is an homage to these menageries and Dutch history. Rosalia’s reflects that in the decor, with little animals hidden everywhere, either live ones, fake ones, or little subtle hints. (animal candle holders, paintings, knick-knacks). They also collect antique furniture, shakers, bottles and more, to be a true menagerie.
Their cocktail menus have also always reflected a part of the menagerie. Every menu has had a theme related to animals, travel and stories. While their first menu was centred around Spirit Animals, the second menu was all about Forgotten Animals (using forgotten spirits and twists on forgotten classics) and the current menu is inspired by Mythical Creatures. We are told that the next menu will be focussed on Sailor’s Tall Tales, using more of the sailing history of the Dutch. That’s something we’re tremendously excited about.
Dutch history is reflected beautifully in Rosalia’s carefully curated spirit selection. They stock over 60 different Jenevers and Korenwijnen, which are the traditional Dutch spirits. For a specialised cocktail bar, Rosalia’s Menagerie has the biggest Jenever selection in The Netherlands, with a significant focus on Dutch liqueurs and Dutch made products.
While the concept of the Menagerie is set, the team can play around with the focus and theme of the menu. Every menu has had a central focus with an underlying theme, and is divided into four sections. The menus don’t mention ingredients or brands, but only a flavour profile of the drink since many guests may not have extensive spirit knowledge and may find it difficult to imagine what a cocktail is going to taste like just by judging the ingredients.
The Cocktail Program:
Rosalia’s cocktail program is focused mainly on Jenever and sustainable bartending. According to Wouter, “We love turning waste into usable ingredients. Our spent lemon husks for example are used to infuse amaro, which is then used in different drink again. We avoid ingredients such as avocado, fresh herbs and pineapples because they either provide too much waste or aren’t sustainably sourced. We as a bar feel a strong responsibility for the environment and try to do our part. It forces us to find different solutions to finding flavours when we restrict ourselves to not using wasteful products.” We can get on board with that!
And of course, there is a strong focus on Jenever, the traditional spirit. “Many people aren’t familiar with this spirit, even the Dutch are wary of it. So we want to offer drinks to people with this Dutch tipple, because it’s a very versatile spirit!” says Wouter.
Rosalia’s Menagerie are a very classics-inspired bar. Their drinks are definitely signatures and unique inventions, but you can definitely detect a strong classic footprint in them. No crazy scientifically engineered drinks, no frills, but good complex drinks that are simple, yet will blow you away with flavour. We experienced this first hand. There is no experimental cocktail lab, everything is made in a simple kitchen, hence the cocktail program is centred around finding new combinations and simple inventive creations for their infusions and syrups to steal the guests’ heart with classically inspired drinks that make a lasting impression.
The Rosalia’s Menagerie team is always in search for new, obscure classics to be able to offer guests an experience they can’t get anywhere else. They are a bar that prides itself on good signature drinks, but with a strong classic backbone and sense of exclusivity we haven’t felt anywhere else recently.
The Owners, Rachel and Pepijn, are a couple who nursed a dream of having their own bar for years. In early 2017, this dream became reality when they finally opened the doors to Rosalia’s Menagerie. Rachel is a former bartender and Pepijn, a true kitchen geek who loves a good drink and interesting flavours. They are actively involved with the Bar and offer their valuable expertise and knowledge whenever needed. Their love for Jenever is a driving force behind the cocktail program at Rosalia’s Menagerie.
The bartending team consists of Wouter Bosch (head bartender and in charge of the cocktail program), Lucas Sedlmaier and Emily Fay Buzzo (who is also the creative genius behind the design of the menu). The kitchen team consists of Givens Kofi Asamoah and Kevin Viezee, who is also a professional athlete, currently Dutch bronze medal holder for the 800meter sprint.
The team is small, but this is a tightly run ship. They work as a family and leave no stone unturned in providing guests with only the most transformational cocktail bar experience.
We can tell you that we have had dreams about going back to the menagerie and losing ourselves in a haze of jenever fumes. Maybe this day will come soon. Until then, we’d love for you to go check it out.
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