What you need to know about Dutch drinks

There’s a lot more to Dutch beverages than beer. If you haven’t had your first Jenever yet, then you better get on it. But, if you’ve been there and done that, here is a list of some unusual traditional Dutch drinks to try out.


Orange Bitter is made by soaking orange peels in brandy. Some recipes call for other ingredients alongside as well. The drink was first concocted in the 1600s but gained popularity in 1814 around the time of King Willem van Oranje. Now, a symbol of national pride it is a must-have on King’s Day and is served at various venues on that day. “In earlier times, when people travelled from the Netherlands too far off countries, bitters were considered digestives. They were full of herbs that were supposed to be helpful,” said Heleen Huis, of Bierhuis De Klomp.

Dutch liqueurs

According to Amsterdam-based artisanal distillery A. Van Wees Distilleerderij de Ooievaar, centuries ago monks experimented extensively with tinctures and elixirs based on available herbs and brandies. Their medicinal drinks tasted good but were ineffective. When honey, sugar and spices reached the Netherlands in the 1600s, new recipes and drinks began to emerge. Eventually, the recipes became popular and some were commercialised.


This is a creamy yellow drink traditionally made at home with eggs, sugar and brandy. Served in small quantities, sometimes with a dollop of cream on top, it is eaten with a small spoon (some shop varieties can be sipped on like other liqueurs). The name, advocatenborrel, means an advocate or lawyer’s drink. Perhaps because back in the 19th century it was considered to be good for the throat, especially for people who spoke a lot.


Made using similar ingredients as Advocaat, Kandeel also has lemon and cinnamon and is served warm. In the 17th century, the drink was associated with childbirth. A father would brew the drink for visitors who came to see his new born child. He would also wear a silk hat decorated with his wife’s ribbons and stir the drink with a cinnamon stick. While the entertaining part of the tradition does not continue today, some families still raise a glass of Kandeel in honour of a new born baby.


Another Dutch liqueur associated with childbirth, this one was made with anise and served to mothers soon after delivery. The belief at the time was that anise had restorative properties that were good for the uterus.

Bride’s Tears

Given as a gift to a bride at her wedding, this liqueur has little gold and silver leaves along with other ingredients that give it a sweet smell. As per tradition, the bride serves her husband a glass when she wants to remind him of his wedding vows.


The name Korenwijn literally translates to corn wine and is made in a similar manner as old Jenever. It must have over 51% and up to 70% malt wine and is aged for a long duration. It is traditionally had as an aperitif and paired with herring.


If you’re looking for an instant kick, this Dutch tradition has you covered. The kopstoot is technically a combination of two drinks – a shot of Jenever and a glass of beer. You first down the shot and then pacify your stinging throat with a glass of cool beer.

Boerenjongens en boerenmeisjes

Boerenjongens – literally Farmer Boys – is a drink/dish made by soaking raisins in brandy. Served in glass with a spoon, or alongside ice cream or pancakes, it’s also used a filling in desserts. Boerenmeisjes – Farmer Girls – is made using dried apricots.

This is an updated version of a previous Delft Survival Guide article.

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