Amsterdam’s Agave Heart beats passionately – Shop, Eat & Drink Mezcal
Amsterdam has a vibrant bar scene. There’s always something new to discover each time you visit the City of Sins. Shop with me at Cane & Grain and visit Amsterdam’s first Mezcaleria “Salmuera”. Conveniently, they are located not far from each other.
At the end of last year, I visited the Perfect Serve Barshow, the leading hospitality industry event, just before the city’s pandemic shut down happened. Let me share the latest spots in Amsterdam that left me stirred not shaken.
My Shopping Moment | Cane & Grain – Specialist in Exclusive Drinking
This newly opened store made me excited and happy. When I entered the spacious shop and saw the shelves lavishly stocked with bottles from floor to ceiling, I felt like a child in a candy shop. Even though I suppressed my first impulse to jump around gleefully, I could hardly hide my joy and excitement.
Cane & Grain Amsterdam is a liquor store, spirits specialist and educator with an extensive webshop for the Netherlands.
As the name Cane & Grain suggests, much is offered here from this raw material. Friends of the liquid pleasure, you will find everything from genever, gin, whisk(e)y, rum and agave to fortified wines. Everything you need for your home bar including tastings and workshops to develop your alcohol expertise. Beware, you’ll leave the shop with your pockets full. By the way, it’s worth asking what’s hiding behind the shelves. Just a little tip on the side without spoiling anything. Stay updated on Insta and Facebook.
As I am a big lover of Agave distillates and couldn’t hide that while looking at the extensive selection (while writing this is I am sipping my Derrumbes Mezcal Durango that I bought back then) I got the following recommendation from the owner of the shop, which I would like to warmly recommend to everyone who loves Latin American cuisine.
My Gourmet Moment | Delicious Dishes and Drinks at Bar-Restaurant Salmuera
Salmuera is named after the traditional brine of salt and herbs used in Argentina to season asado meat and is Amsterdam’s first Mezcaleria. It is about Latino vibes on the plate and in the glass. You will find Argentine asado, Peruvian ceviche and Mexican street food on the menu. The drinkslist is inspired by the cuisine and the exchange and teamwork of Salmuera’s chefs and bartenders.
What makes Salmuera special? The concept at Salmuera shows how the interplay of Mezcal and food can be tastefully implemented.
Food & Drinks Pairing has always been a winning team. The combination of mezcal with dishes is rather rare. This is partly due to the strong character of mezcal, which is unfamiliar to our palates, and partly due to the bad reputation of tequila. If I talk about Tequila I mean the real tequila, handcrafted and made on small family farms in Mexico, not the industrial surrogate causing bad headaches.
Agave distillates have become more and more popular. “Mezcal with food” is a great flavoursome and well-thought-out concept of Salmuera.
Of course, a clever concept is not only about taste, but also about the location itself, which is another building block to create a successful guest experience. It’s about taking a little time out from everyday life and having a great experience. What awaits you is a building with a long and boozy history with two floors, a cozy courtyard, an elaborate décor, complete with a crackling fire, flickering candles and large-scale murals.
The location itself has a little story to tell. “Salmuera is situated in one of Amsterdam’s protected monumental buildings. Dating back to the 1600s, the venue used to be the home and the taproom of a Dutch beverage icon of the Dutch Golden Age, Lucas Bols. Having a drink at the bar has been the same for over 300 years – the past five years only with more mezcal. The original bar counter and floor stay under the watchful eye of the spirit of the old Lucas, hopefully for many more years!” Salmuera our story: https://www.sal-amsterdam.nl/our-story, last access 28.03.2022.
Each dish is combined with a Mezcal in a delicious and original way – of course, only if desired, it also works without liquid accompaniment. The food menu is mostly a mix of grilled meats, different types of ceviche and with a choice of small bites and sides for sharing.
Combining and contrasting flavours: As with any food pairing, it is important to work with aromas and flavours that complement and contrast each other.
I was there with a friend, and we shared ceviche and street food dishes as starters. For the main course, there was a decent prime cut for each of us. Mezcal has a wide range of flavours, some are really smooth, some stronger. There is earthiness, smoke, and you can taste the sweat of the painstaking work behind the manufacturing process. The barbecue flavour of my tenderloin was intense with a strong mezcal accompaniment.
The Rey Campero Madre Cuishe is 100% agave karwinskii roasted in earthen pits, stone-ground, fermented with the aid of natural yeasts in wood casks and double-distilled in a copper alembic. The Rey Campero line is produced primarily of wild agaves harvested and distilled in Candelaria Yegolé, Oaxaca by master mezcalero Rómulo Sánchez Parada. Despite a powerful 48.9% vol the mezcal boasts a fruity taste.
The Mezcal menu is magnificent and impressively staged. On the massive shelves at the bar, or as Salumera calls it, on their treasure wall, there are 100 different Agave distillates ready to explore mezcal’s many faces from Oaxacan terroirs to more uncommon soils and discover how it manifests in different agaves. Beside Mezcal you will find rare Mexican spirits such as Raicilla, Bacanora and Sotol, which are not so popular in Europe.
The main protagonist on the cocktail list is, of course, Mezcal, accompanied by fresh ingredients, homemade syrups, and clear ice.
After having had many high-proof tastings with the food there was just room for one cocktail. I opted for a liquid dessert in the form of the “Mole Rosa” Espresso Martini. A spicy and complex mix of Montelobos Mezcal, ruby chocolate and dried chilis. The staff tailor their drinks nicely to the spirit, or just replace the spirit of a classical drink with agave distillates. Another tasty example I had the pleasure of sampling was the “Purified” Penicillin, a combination of Palo Santo, honey-sweet ginger, Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky and Aprendiz Espadin Mezcal. Spicy, smoky with a hint of sensual and stimulating perfume note, nicely balanced. Amsterdam definitely has a heart for Agave lovers.
Visit Salmuera and despite the abundance of seats on offer, reservations are recommended.