It’s a good thing for a landlord if he can make his pub about something. Like the biggest, the oldest, the cheapest, the smallest and there we are, we have arrived. Let me introduce you to the so-called smallest tavern in town. Louis Bar café De Dam.
Not a bad place to have a few beers; I used to frequent the establishment quite often upon my return to this home country. The place is frequented by Englishmen, it’s a bit of a tourist pub, and as I was no longer able to fluently speaks Dutch after having been absent for 14 years, it was sort of nice to be able to speak a tongue I could express myself well in. I even wrote a song about a girl I met there once; she had a few hours to kill before leaving town. If you’re looking for a job and speak English, you might see and ask if they have any vacancies.
As for size, the place is indeed small; it’s all bar and not much else. Using the bathroom is an adventure in itself; most pubs in the inner city have their toilets upstairs, the stairways are usually old, and while not rickety climbing them up is somewhat of an adventure. Climbing them down too, but that’s scarier as you can see how high you can fall if things go wrong. Miraculously they never seem to do; everyone always safely returns to ground level without getting hurt.
Louis has been running the place since 1986; he was not, however, its first landlord. The pub has been in business since 1803. It seems to hang full of football scarves, yet it’s not a real football pub; people seem to leave them there, and Louis is ok with that; he doesn’t mind; he even thinks there’s room for more.
Louis pub may be many things, but it’s not the smallest!
Another pub that’s quite small in size is called ‘t Mandje (the basket) (link) on the Zeedijk near Central Station, but again this is also not the west watering hole in Amsterdam. The tiniest one is according to the city records café De Dokter (The Doctor).
About five years before café Louis opened its doors in 1803, another establishment saw first light. Café De Dokter, an enterprise started by a doctor who worked at the hospital nearby and had had enough, though he’d try something else. He belonged to the Beems family, and his descendants still own the place. The Doctor is about a stone’s throw away from Louis the Dam, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were actually closer to Dam square than Louis place.
The pub measures up to about 18 square meters and is located in the Rozenboog steeg just of the Kalverstraat (That’s the one with all the people in it), near het Spui. Google it, and it’s complicated. The music they play is what they call sophisticated Jazz. (lot’s of saxophones).
If you’d like to try something Dutch to eat, ask for the Osseworst (not for vegetarians), it’s Ox sausage with pickles.
A pub crawl
Let’s do a tiny pub crawl; it we start at Central Station, we could first drop by at the oldest pub in town, to Aepjen, look for the bookstore across from Central Station, across from the Victoria hotel, if you can’t find it look up to the rooftops and find the Jesus loves you sign, that’s where you want to be, walk down the northern alley until you get to the zeedijk, it’s about 30 meters or so. T’Aepjen is on the corner, and it’s house number one on the Zeedijk; ask for the Palm beer. They have it on draught. When finished, then cross the street and look for the Ooievaar. They specialize in distilled Dutch liquor; ask them if you can taste some. They’ll most likely comply and give you some for free. This pub is also on a corner. Turn the corner and walk down the Warmoestraat, one of the older streets in Amsterdam. It’s a relatively long street and will take you to Dam square, actually to the back of Dam square, continue on past Hotel Krasnapolsky. You will end up on the corner of the Dam straat, home of café Louis, turn left down the Dam straat, Louis place is on the opposite side about 50 meters down the street.
If you made it there and still not have had enough to drink, head for café De Dokter, turn back from Louis towards Dam square and turn left at het Rokin, that’s the big road that cuts Dam square in half. It would help if you crossed over first before you turn down het Rokin. After two hundred yards, you’ll be coming to traffic lights. Turn right down het Spui, turn right again at the first street called Kalverstraat, it’s one of the city’s main shopping streets and may be packed with pedestrians but not if you go at night. Take the first alley to your left, and you should be there. Look for number 4. Next, take a cab home if you can afford it.
Café De Dam (Bar Louis)
Phone: (31) 020 – 624 53 31
Café De Dokter (‘t Doktertje)
Phone: (31)020 – 626 44 27