I’ve lived in Amsterdam now for almost two years (wait… what?! Where did that go?), and in all this time, all the bars that have been visited, all the beers that have been drank, I have never, ever, ever paid as much for a beer as I did two weeks ago. Stumbling around the Red Light District in a post New Year’s haze, shivering in the cold and crowded bars with nowhere to sit making me more and more irritable, I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly sitting down in the middle of a very nice bar. Most bars I’ve stumbled across in these infamous two streets of Dam are not particularly nice. You know, they’re okay, but nothing you would necessarily tell anyone about. But this one was nice and I would tell people about it.
So, happy out of the cold and the wet, I ordered a beer. Since moving to Amsterdam, I’ve become more into beer than other drinks when I go out… probably because not only does everyone here seemingly drink beers, but they serve NICE beer, and a huuuuge range of them. Not here, apparently. After asking for two different white beers to no avail, I settled on a La Chouffe. I didn’t ask the price – something in which I later regretted.
An hour or so passed, I sipped on my small beer. Again some more Amsterdam beer facts to share: a regular beer is served in either 22cl, 25cl or 33cl glasses (I’m not actually an expert regardless of my musings, so this is based on my own experience. But I think it’s right.) Although this is preposterously small to most Brits who seem to think anything less than a pint of beer is for pusssssssaaaays, I like it. You take your time with it, it doesn’t get warm, it doesn’t get flat, and it makes you feel like the beer you are drinking is cheap. Which, in this case, was not.
The bill finally came. Five small beers. Small as in 22cl small – not even a Coke sized can of beer, and the bill was €30. My thimble of La Chouffe cost an unprecedented €6.50. SIX EUROS FIFTY CENTS. Shocked, annoyed that I had to spend SIX BLOODY EUROS FIFTY BLOODY CENTS on a tiny beer, and slightly hopeful that this was a mistake, I questioned the waiter, much to the embarrassment of my company.
“Erm, is this La Chouffe – this very small glass of La Chouffe, might I add – really €6.50?” I asked. His reply? “Yes. It’s expensive, but it’s the area. Everywhere around here is expensive.”
Cue anger. “Everywhere around here is this price?” No, no it is not. This is a lie – a blatant lie told to unassuming tourists who do not know any better.
I wasn’t naive to the fact that bars and restaurants up their prices dependent on their location, and, as you have to, I readily accept that as a consequence of choosing a busy area to have a drink. But seeing as I know Amsterdam quite a lot better than the average tourist, I know for a fact that this isn’t true. In fact, a mere 3 minute walk from the bar in question lies one of my favourite bars in the city. Smack bam in the middle of the Red Light District, Mata Hari is gorgeous. Super Dutch, awesome selection of drinks, a pretty classy looking restaurant upstairs and – most importantly – fairly priced beers. The same beer (but acutally in a bigger glass…) is only €3.80 here. Does a three minute walk around the same area justify an almost doubled price? I think not. And look how happy my sister, my boyf and I are drinking these moderately priced beers just three minutes away.
So, what’s the point of this post? I guess to rant about the audacity of a bar telling me they were basically robbing me blind because of the area as they assumed I was a tourist… but no, it’s more than that. There’s no shame in being a tourist, and fair prices shouldn’t be only reserved for locals. I doubt my outraged ramblings will encourage any kind of boycotting of expensive bars that insist upon ripping us all off, but be aware that it’s not necessarily ‘the area’ you’ve decided to quench your thirst in. It could just be the particularly greedy owner of the bar in question.