Amsterdam: No Sweeter Fruit than Feijoa

I’ve eaten feijoada (the national dish of Brazil) in Rio de Janeiro on various visits to that city… so when I listed Sergej Fokke’s Feijoa Bar my first bar stop in Amsterdam, I guessed that it might specialize in Latin-inspired cocktails with a possible emphasis on cachaça. Silly me.

While there is cachaça behind the bar, as well as quite a good overall selection of spirits, the bar isn’t so much “Latin”-centric, as it is cocktail-centric. There is a drink list but the barmen are open to creating something on-the-spot to suit individual tastes. As one bartender put it, as he motioned to the wall of bottles behind him: “This is our menu.”

The Dutch bar is named after the fruit “feijoa” which, although native to South America, also flourishes in New Zealand, so much so that New Zealand-based 42 Below vodka has a feijoa-infused spirit among its flavors. Naturally, I had to see what all the fuss is about, so I ordered Feijoa’s namesake cocktail. While the fruit has a slight medicinal flavor, or at least the infused vodka does, it is not unpleasant. And, when presented in a cocktail made with muddled fresh kiwi and limejuice, its quite refreshing.

In addition to enjoying a fine drink, Id’ encourage visitors to head to Feijoa to take in the superb bartenders. They are skilled in the craft of making guests feel welcome, and also have obvious training in mixology: citrus presses are used on limes and lemons in each individual drink; muddling is a regular occurrence; and double strained fresh strawberry daiquiris put anything less to shame. We talked spirits non-stop (discussed whether the new antique Galliano should replace the current popular version, as well as how to introduce the general public to higher quality cocktails in easily digested sips), and it felt like a ‘corner cocktail bar’ home away from home.

The 2-level space is small enough to feel cozy but not cramped. I’d call the décor “eclectic avant garde.” I loved the giant black and white photo, and the overhead light fixture is an antique operating room lamp – a bit macabre yet intriguing to imagine the many bodies carved up beneath it. I appreciate a touch of Vegas-y kitch about the place.

Feijoa is also very close to its sister bar, the famed speak-easy style Door 74, which is co-owned Sergej and Philip Duff. Although Door 74’s address is not loosely given out, if you are a cocktail lover, you might be able to convince the guys at Feijoa to get you into ‘the door’ for a peek.

However, under no circumstances should you saunter past Feijoa on your way to Door 74 without stopping in for a quick drink. In the words of Mr. Duff: “Fejoia [is] the tiny bartender’s bar of the Netherlands and one of the three or four finest cocktail bars in Holland, full-stop.” In cocktailian terms, that means there is not a sweeter fruit to be found.

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