Friday 12 April 2024

A new local

The closing of Butcher's Tears was a sad day. And not just because I wasn't there for the last day. Swanning off to Brazil.

Once the sobbing subsided, a question was voiced: where to next?

There weren't many options. With these criteria:

- reasonably priced
- easy to get to
- decent beer
- not overrun with fucking tourists

That ruled out anywhere in the centre. Pretty much. We gave Siouxie's Saloon a try. Not my sort of place.

Soundgarden was suggested. Ticking many boxes. But, from some reason I can't recall, we decided to go with Checkpoint Charlie instead.

Last Saturday was or third time there. Not really giving me a local vibe yet. But that takes time to build. Harder to bear is the lack of draught Mild and Stout. Especially Headroom. A beer that took me closer to the 19th century with every sip. Weihenstapher Dunkles Weissbier is OK. But three of four pints is enough. And Checkpoint Charlie does sell korenwijn. Drinablke jenever. Not like the industrial cleaner called jonge jenever.

The presence of a pool table and pinball machine mean Alexei is much more likcely to come along. And reminded me of a previous local.

"We always used to play pool in Rick's Cafe. And pinball. During Happy Hour, at the weekend. Drinking De Koninck."


"That was our local for several years. Me, Lucas, Will and Mikey."

"Can you just take your shot?"

I surprisingly potted two balls in fairly convincing fashion. Then totally missed the 8-ball. I did win, though. Unlike at pinball. Where he thrashed me.

Rick's Cafe was our local for quite a while. At least five or six years Probably more. Drinking half-price, happy-hour De Koninck.I had a couple of Guinness breakfasts there, too, after a night of clubbing.

 I can't remember why we stopped going there.

Then there was Cafe Belgique. We hung around there for a few years. I had my 40th and 50th birthday parties there. Where the beer tokens were miniature Czech 50 and 100 crown notes. Mikey worked there for a while. Lucas DJ'd once.

Even earlier, back in the early 1990s, me, Lucas and Will often hung around in the De Pijp. Like Centurion on the Ceintuurbaan. Or the odd little place close to Sarphati Park where we'd play pool. And heard cumbia for the first time.

Both are long gone.

Late drinking started at Korsakoff. A bar/club sort of thing that looked like it had stared as a squat. It stretched through several floors of a pakhuis - an old, narrow warehouse. They had some OK beers: witbier, De Koninck on draught. Duvel and a Trappist or two in bottles.

When Korsakoff closed, if we still had a thirst, Mazzo wasn't far. A club where we could drink for two hours more. Though a couple of years later we did go there for clubbing. When they had to move after a fire, Lucas had a regular DJ slot in the chillout room. Happy days.

Both are closed.

Ter Brugge was another regular meeting place. When Will and Lucas used to play football with me and the kids in Vondel Park. One of the cheapest pubs around. Wher eI drank Westmalle Tripel or La Chouffe.

It was remodelled and renamed in 2016.

We've been through quite a few regular haunts over the years. Me and my long-term mates. When somewhere closes or changes or gets too fucking expensive, we move on. As we have done many times before. 

 Butcher's Tears closing was sad, but we're moving on. The group of friends is what matters. And is the whole point of going down the pub. Not where we choose to meet.

Let's see if Checkpoint Charlie sticks. If not, I'm sure we'll find somewhere else. We always have.


Matt said...

There are a few ways you can lose your local, and I've experienced all of them: it shuts, get turned into something else or is demolished; it stops selling cask, or any decent, beers; it tries to go upmarket, with dress codes and age restrictions; the drinks prices go up beyond what you can afford on a regular basis; it becomes a dining place, with drinkers shunted into a side room, and a sterile atmosphere you no longer feel comfortable in.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like 'Spoons need to start an Amsterdam operation.

Anonymous said...

Be thankful you have a reasonable choice. Mine is either the expensive hotel that has 1 ale on or a variety of crappy bars with equally crappy beer.

Anonymous said...

Ron, what is this Headroom beer of which you speak? Sounds intriguing.

Anonymous said...

No idea why people don't just stay home and drink Lidl lager at 50c a can. What's the point of paying more and having to listen to people's bloody opinions?

Anonymous said...

That's a nice look at another country's drinking places.

This is probably a dumb question, but why are so many coasters on that bar?

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Cafe Belgique - a short story.
Obviously a favourite spot in my heavy-drinking, weed-smoking days but Amsterdam had fallen off our radar for a number of years because of the extortionate price of alcohol even before it became extortionate in the UK.
Then a few years ago I was flying from Cork to Sri Lanka to watch some cricket, changing planes in Amsterdam and linking up with a buddy at Schiphol on his way from the UK.
Sharing a beer as we waited for our connection I remarked it was the first time I'd ever been at Schiphol without heading into town to get twatted.
We waited. And waited. For a number of hours. Before our flight was eventually cancelled completely and we were bussed to an overnight hotel at the airport with a few vouchers for some crap food and soft drinks.
Fuck that, we thought, and a taxi ride later we were in Cafe Belgique squeezed in tight and demolishing strong beer and getting twatted on a night of bongs and beers. The only downside was I wisely figured we were too monged to enjoy one of my all-time favourite bars in the world Proeflokaal Arendsnest.
We resumed our journey the next day with enough guaranteed flight delay compensation to pay for our evening and most of our journey to Sri Lanka and back.
It was a result and a half.

Ron Pattinson said...


Headroom is a Double Brown Stout brewed by Butcher's Tears. Very nice it is, too.