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Culture Contact: Social, Hospitality and Hostelry

It is a world of social and cultural delights for the taking.  For drinkers, diners and socialites there is a magnificent abundance of marvellous options: bars, cafés, restaurants, brewpubs, brasseries, taprooms, bistros.

See Also: Paying It Forward


Bierlokaal de Uiver

Theatre-goers, out-of-towners visiting the City’s main square and those enjoying other traditional Dutch delights in the centre of Haarlem have been blessed since 2016 with a large beer bar serving 40 traditional and craft beers.

Determined visitors need venture only a few steps off the beaten track to find Bierlokaal de Uiver, a beer bar high on the list of destinations for the beer faithful. The younger sibling of the more traditional In Den Uiver just around the corner, Bierlokaal de Uiver features an impressive rotating draft beer list and a fridgeful of unique bottled beer for those extra-special occasions.

The focal point of Bierlokaal de Uiver is its central counter, around which beer-lovers congregate to select one of the 40 beers on a list that is loosely broken down into eight general groups. The taps on the wall behind the bar are visible from this vantage point, and the name of a crowdfunder who contributed to making Bierlokaal de Uiver a reality can be read on each tap. Tables and chairs cling to the walls around the counter in this long, narrow and thoughtfully designed independent beer bar, the largest in Haarlem.

(Photograph: Bierlokaal de Uiver from Facebook)

Café De Lange Heer

A welcoming diversion from the frantic comings-and-goings of the nearby railway station, and a guiding light for the dedicated beer enthusiasts and those seeking a relaxing sidetrack in a neighbourhood otherwise devoid of Haarlem’s quintessential bar, café and eating experiences.

Its location a short walk from the city centre often overlooks its capability for providing the perfect combination of beer-selection, atmosphere, food, games tournaments and popular events, and yet its location a step or two off a well-trodden path ensures anybody who discovers Café De Lange Heer won’t easily forget it as a pre- or post-journey halt, a place to stop and water the horses.

Its chilled-out lounge vibe is unpretentious, and its small terrace, solid tables and inviting bar-stools are the perfect places to indulge in Café De Lange Heer’s celebration of the classic café attitude combined with a small, yet thoughtfully curated menu, and a willingness to showcase some of the nation’s finest Craft Beers — the invitation to peer into the large, well-stocked fridge to make a selection is to die for.

It’s a challenge to pop in for only one drink, but it’s easy to overstay and miss the train.

(Photograph: Café De Lange Heer from Facebook)

Café Koops

A small yet thoughtfully curated rotating beer list, award-winning house-wines and a palpable sense of devotion among the loyal regulars are all under one roof to create the quintessential Haarlem experience, an abundance of the classic Dutch brown-café ambiance.

Locals call it the best place to meet friends, chat and enjoy the cityscape with a satisfying drink served by affable staff.  Praise indeed for a popular, unassuming café and bar that plays a pivotal role in the hustle and bustle of city life.

With its position at the busy pedestrian intersection of the city’s Oude Groenmarkt and Klokhuisplein, patrons jostling for a desirable position on the terrace are rewarded with a front-row seat overlooking one of Haarlem’s most photographed panoramas.

The winter outlook is as equally impressive, and Cafe Koops thoughtfully provides blankets so clientele can enjoy the outdoor scene.

The Christmas period is an annual experience not to miss; the interior is unrecognisable as Cafe Koops.  Throughout the year the interior is pleasantly uncomplicated and straightforward — an exposed wooden floor, plenty of smart wooden chairs and tables, and handful of barstools at a functional counter — yet a herculean effort transforms it into a wonderland at Christmastime, a magical grotto.

Food choice is limited to snacks and small plates, but anything more would detract from the passionate character of Cafe Koops and its genial focus on excellent drinks, mingling and having a good time.

(Photograph: Cafe Koops from Facebook)

Café ‘t Kantoor

When you’re negotiating the busy shopping lanes of Haarlem and need a moment’s respite, the perfect café for beers, wines, coffee, a light bite and great conversation is only a moment away.

Café ‘t Kantoor has a distinguished reputation as a refuge from the numerous delightful boutiques, independent retailers and artisanal outlets between which it sits.  It occupies a busy corner location that affords visitors a small, fashionable terrace, an office-themed interior and a beautiful dual-aspect view of the city’s excited shoppers going about their business.

Proof of Café ‘t Kantoor being a backbone of Haarlem’s café culture is its popularity with both long-time residents and occasional visitors who thrive on the city’s social aspects.  Visit Café ‘t Kantoor shortly after opening-time and it is likely to already be busy, and the lively buzz of excitement continues well into the evening.

By offering a combination of comfort, affable hospitality, an impressive beer list (12 rotating draft beers and all the bottled classics), great wine and a perfect, convenient location, Café ‘t Kantoor has a pleasant and welcoming vibe all of its own.

(Photograph: Café ‘t Kantoor from Facebook)

Cucumis Drinks

Let’s deviate from beer for just a moment. Let’s consider another beverage. Let’s think about something that is neither alcohol nor beer. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy something different, and amid the non-alcoholic, non-beer distractions at Amsterdam’s Horecava was Cucumis Drinks.

Straight out of Hamburg, these delicious vegan and biological drinks are, frankly, unbelievable. It’s cucumber lemonade, and they must be tasted to believe. Besides the original, there is now also a Lavender and a Camomile version.

Free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings, never has the cucumber been so refreshing. A heathier healthy alternative.

These beverages are perfect on their own. And they’re perfect for mixing into a cocktail.

Outside Germany their popularity is growing, and they’re distributed by Bier&cO in the Netherlands. So, ask your local retailer, café or bar for The Sophisticated Cucumber, The Sophisticated Camomile or The Sophisticated Lavender — Cucumis Drinks

(Photograph: Cucumis Drinks from Facebook)

Grand Café Lokaal

Local beer is available too, but it is the welcome renaissance in Craft Beer from across the Atlantic that brings many tourists and locals alike to Grand Café Lokaal, a lively bar and restaurant in east Amsterdam that showcases the offerings of several well-respected breweries from the USA and is the go-to gathering place for indulging in the twin passions of beer and food.

In a city that is already overflowing with beer-bars and cafes, serious beer fanatics never fail to be delighted by bars with a healthy and diverse international beer selection, especially when there’s an undemanding, chilled-out vibe that welcomes drinkers to spend time leisurely perusing the available choices in a publicly-accessible beer-chiller — always a favourite with beer-lovers, who will return to the bar (and chiller) again and again.

Despite being a magnet for fans of US Craft Beer, it is the classic-yet-modern feel, the living room-style comfort and the substantial kitchen with its thoughtful and tempting menu that attract many drinkers and diners to Grand Café Lokaal.

(Photograph: Grand Café Lokaal from Facebook)

Het Wapen van Bloemendaal

This gem of a café just outside the main drag of the city centre attracts a wide range of clientele, from locals avoiding the bustle of the main square to regulars who relish the convivial atmosphere, from nearby concert-goers to the beer faithful who are shrewd enough to recognise that even the most experienced of beer-hunters are able to find a new experience here.

Het Wapen van Bloemendaal is an integral part of Haarlem’s history, having been in existence for nigh on 150 years, first as a restaurant and then as a café.  Original murals and advertisements from a century ago or more adorn the walls.

Describing itself as a ‘Golden Oldies Café’, Het Wapen van Bloemendaal is an accessible, welcoming café that occupies an important corner location at one of the few bridges crossing the Leidsevaart, one of the oldest canals in the Netherlands and traditionally considered the city limits.  Its position remains strategic insomuch as it is the first café visitors encounter when strolling into the city from the west.

The presence of a nearby concert venue, the Patronaat, reflects positively on many of the bars and cafés in this part of Haarlem, with live music being a regular event.  As suggested by the ‘Golden Oldies Café’ tag, the focus at Het Wapen van Bloemendaal is unforgettable, timeless pop and rock music, but not played loud enough to discourage the café’s other recognisable qualities: fun, friendship, conversation and laughter.

Lighting is subdued, comfort is assured, and a hearty welcome is guaranteed.  Het Wapen van Bloemendaal is a typical brown-café with an atypical selection of beers to keep the serious brew-fanatics happy.

(Photograph: Het Wapen van Bloemendaal from Facebook)

In Den Uiver

Combining all-original features, a prime location, a relaxing vibe and a great drinks menu, this former city-centre fish and provisions shop has been pleasing tourists and locals alike for over 35 years.

In Den Uiver is one of the most photographed landmarks (a Dutch gabled architectural masterpiece) in the heart of historic Haarlem, recognisable by the tiled Art Nouveau tableau that adorns the exterior of the 185-year-old building. The tiled-tableau theme continues inside, alongside the original accoutrements that confirm this popular bar and café has a long history of satiating thirsty drinkers.

In spite of (or because of) being overshadowed by the monumental Grote Kerk or St.-Bavokerk, which sits directly opposite and forms the centrepiece of Haarlem, a seat on In Den Uiver’s terrace is a highly fashionable position from which to observe Haarlem life.

Featuring 10 beer taps, an impressive rotating beer list and one of the widest selection of liquors in the city, In Den Uiver offers chilled-out, unpretentious comfort. The large number of vintage tables, chairs and stools ooze authenticity and have witnessed decades of conversation and an innumerable number of happy customers.

Beer-lovers who enjoy the selection are encouraged to visit In Den Uiver’s younger taproom sibling around the corner, Bierlokaal de Uiver.

(Photograph: In Den Uiver from Facebook)

Lokaal – Dutch Beer Bar

Specialist Craft Beer Bars may seem to be ten a penny nowadays, commonplace and samey. However, stepping into Haarlem’s Lokaal dispels all generic notions and generalisations. This is the real deal. As the bar’s subheading suggests, Lokaal wears its heart on its sleeve and specialises in Dutch Craft Beer, focusing on the astonishing quantity and quality of beer being produced in a country that leads the world in having a very high number of breweries per capita.

There’s always a buzz at Lokaal, evidence of the welcoming vibe that makes it a gathering spot for locals, the beer-faithful and an increasing number of beer-tourists.

Lokaal may have only been in existence for a few years, but its heritage goes back 15-years or more and includes in its lineage the much-missed and still-loved Café Briljant. The legacy is unmistakable insomuch as Lokaal is the home of Briljant Brouwhuis, which produces such brilliant delights as the “Stoeien met Stout” Russian Imperial Stout.

Lokaal takes a simple, no-gimmicks approach in its design, which emphasises the outstanding range and eminence of draft or bottled beers on offer. Anybody wishing to take a beer-trip across the country need only visit Lokaal to embark on a brewing journey that sees each of the twelve Dutch provinces represented by its finest beers and breweries in the large and impressively-stocked fridges.

Lokaal exudes an unpretentious lounge-like ambiance that sees many regular music events, spoken-word and comedy nights, vinyl-spinning evenings and other diverse occasions entertaining the loyal regulars and debut visitors, all of whom who are greeted and received by staff who not only take great pleasure in their work, but also display a rare warmth and personal-touch.

(Photograph: Lokaal – Dutch Beer Bar from Facebook)

Spaarne66

Even with one of the most popular terraces in Haarlem, this riverside bar, café and restaurant in the heart of the city has a reputation for rewarding curious drinkers and appreciative diners for more than 10-years.

A traditional-cum-contemporary haven of tranquillity, chicness and home from home comforts away from the frantic activity of a bustling city-centre a few steps away, Spaarne66 focuses on a discerning food and drinks menu that attracts locals and tourists alike throughout the year.  Featured drinks range from locally-sourced Craft Beers to fine wines to a diverse selection of teas, coffees and juices — and everything in-between.  Those who enjoy a slightly stronger tipple after a tough day’s shopping won’t be disappointed by the variety on offer.  The talented kitchen provides distinctive, healthy food options with an impressive menu that follows seasonal availability, focusing on regional produce and the environment.

By ensuring the staff are knowledgeable about the beers, wines, spirits, teas and coffees — they are trained baristas — Spaarne66 manages to offer customers a personal experience and intimacy that brings people back again and again.

(Photograph: Spaarne66 from Facebook)

Taverne De Waag

This elder statesmen of the Haarlem river-skyline is a former taxation office and fire-fighting equipment storeroom that is sure to appear in most tourist photographs.  It brings together not only over 420-years of history but also a contemporary wining, dining and melodising experience that makes it a staple of social life in a city already teeming with options.

Taverne De Waag’s opulent and authoritative 16th century stone façade that stands watch over the river, its imposing collection of gargantuan weighing equipment, and its place in the city’s musical folklore are reasons enough to visit, without even considering the merits of its food, drinks and ambiance.

Its beer list may be petite, but what it lacks in malt and hop is compensated by grape.  A thoughtful and celebrated selection of wines served by staff who can capably walk the novice wine-drinker through the choices has earned Taverne De Waag a renowned reputation.

Taverne De Waag is not huge, yet it manages to attract singer-songwriters from around the world to its well-attended (and free) Sunday evening music sessions.  Local musicians are also welcomed to the Traditional Irish sessions on the last Saturday of each month.  Fans of folk rock make a musical pilgrimage to Taverne De Waag, too, to visualise the atmosphere of 1966, when an already-successful Simon & Garfunkel performed here (Paul Simon had performed here as a solo artist once before).

On any given Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening Taverne De Waag is crowded with diners, many of whom have booked in advance because the demand is high.  The secret of Taverne De Waag’s success on its food-evenings is having a set menu — everybody is served the same thoughtful and tempting high-quality dish: Steak (Wednesdays), Satay (Thursdays) or Fish (Fridays).

(Photograph: Taverne De Waag from Facebook)

Tierney’s Irish Pub Haarlem

There’s no mistaking the craic at this staple of Haarlem’s social life, a classic-yet-modern Irish pub that shifts gear with ease from café to bar to party-venue, from its capable lunchtime home-from-home hubbub to its hearty-dining experiences. This is the place to indulge in the many vices of the city.

The attentiveness of the affable and cheerful staff at Tierney’s Irish Pub Haarlem is a joy, and drinkers are offered a healthy and diverse range of options, from whiskey, whisky, wines and spirits to the ever-popular cider, from mainstream beers to one or two house-beers on draft. Tierney’s Irish Pub Haarlem (and its sister pub in Delft) is the home of Thievin’ Fecker Red Ale and the Robbin’ Bastard IPA, two beers from the pub’s own Stolen Bicycle Brewery — named in honour of not only one of the country’s most lucrative businesses, but also one of its most familiar experiences.

The thoughtfully curated menu showcases the offerings of some of the city’s finest chefs, a heavenly feast of sandwiches, burgers, other tantalising mains and seasonal specials that are a magnet for both devotes of classic pub fayre and those tempted by robust, solid and dependable snacks and meals.

Tierney’s Irish Pub Haarlem is pleasant, uncomplicated and straightforward. It is the essence of fun, friendship and camaraderie, as the mainly expat and local clientele mingle with tourists, jostling for the best seats in the house to enjoy a beer, chew the fat, partake in one of the many celebrated pub quizzes or revel in the wonderful variety of sport that graces the numerous screens throughout: rugby, football, Gaelic sports and everything in-between.

(Photograph: Tierney’s Irish Pub Haarlem from Facebook)