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Ritual & Medicinal

Kopstootje

The Dutch drinking ritual begins with a glass of genever and ends with a “little head-butt.”

When your glass is half-full, congratulate yourself on the positive outlook. When your glass is too full, get ready for a “little head-butt.” Called kopstootje in the Netherlands, this centuries-old drinking ritual is still used as a technique to take down a shot and a beer.

The ritual begins with a nearly overflowing, tulip-shaped glass of ice-cold genever. The Dutch spirit consists of malt wine (a distillate of rye, corn, and barley) blended with herbs and spices, such as juniper. The resulting beverage has a whisky-like body that’s balanced out by botanical flavors (because of the latter, many call the substance the original gin).

Tiny tulip cup before them, Dutch drinkers lower their heads to the brimming glass perched on the bar. Without using their hands, they take a slurp of the aromatic spirit, completing the “little head-butt.” Bartenders in the Netherlands typically pair the liquor with a pilsner, which operates as a chaser. Once drinkers no longer fear that their tulip cup might runneth over, they hold the glass and toast. Then, they’re free to sip, shoot, and alternate with beer at their leisure.

Need to Know

You can partake in the kopstootje at bars in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam.

Where to Try It
  • House of Bols, The Cocktail & Genever Experience
    Paulus Potterstraat 14, Amsterdam, 1071 CZ, The Netherlands

    This Dutch museum offers a tasting room and a full bar where you can experience kopstootje.

  • The Pilsener Club
    Begijnensteeg 4, Amsterdam, 1012 PN, The Netherlands

    This “brown cafe” (or Dutch pub) is a hole-in-the-wall that's central, yet well-hidden from tourists.

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rachelrummel
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