First stop on my journey to the Rutte & Sons Distillery in Dordrecht was Rotterdam, where a phenomenally crafted meal was followed by a top secret nightcap and a solid sleep in a historic setting.
Here are the highlights.
Set inside repurposed railway arches, FG Foodlabs is the Michelin star playground for (ex-The Fat Duck, ex-Per Se, ex-Cees Helder, etc). Dinner here (with a mostly seafood menu of dishes paired with cocktails made with Rutte gins and Old Simon Genever) was as fun as fine dining gets. I loved the buzzy atmosphere but mostly was ga-ga for the food.
Geurds has other restaurants in town (including his more staid, two Michelin star establishment FG Restaurant) but I’d be inclined to return to Foodlabs if I were seeking a suitable setting for a celebratory occasion. Booking ahead is advised.
FG Foodlabs is located at Katshoek 41, 3032 AE Rotterdam. Find out more at fgfoodlabs.nl.
An otherwise nondescript townhouse door with a brass plaque reading “Dr Rotterdam” and appearing to have the Rod of Asclepius (you know the serpent-and-staff symbol associated with the doctors and the Hippocratic Oath) on it – that’s all that stands between the crush of 21st century media saturation and having a great drink coupled with an actual conversation. Upon closer observation it’s not the Rod of Asclepius, but a martini glass with a serpent wrapped round it as the apt logo for this speakeasy where no mobiles or cameras are allowed past the entrance.
Inside, Dr Rotterdam is a small dimly lit bar where bartenders wear white coats and are happy to prescribe remedies for you. The “doctor” shtick pretty much stops there. The drinks are top notch, as are the mixologists’ skills. My nightcap was an excellent opportunity for a taste of Embrasse de la Terre. Created by Zachary Faden of Mirabelle in Washington DC, this drink won the annual competition to be the 2017 Official Cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail. It features Rutte Old Simon Genever as its base spirit.
Dr Rotterdam is a bookings only bar located in the neighbourhood of Scheepvaartkwartier. Directions are sent when a reservation is made. Find out more at drrotterdam.com.
Hotel New York
After my nightcap I headed back to my suite at Hotel New York, where I got a good night’s sleep followed by a hearty breakfast.
On the waterfront, the hotel is set within the former head office of the Holland America Line from which thousands of emigrants once embarked for a new life in America. My room was massive with a great view of Rem Koolhaas’ iconic De Rotterdam towers and the city’s famed Erasmus Bridge. I slept like a baby here, and enjoyed a spread of excellent options for brekkie the next morning. Only there for one night, I’d have relished a longer stay.
Hotel New York is located at Koninginnenhoofd 1, 3072 AD Rotterdam. Find out more at hotelnewyork.com.
After a leisurely breakfast, it was time to take a water taxi to Dordrecht – which was easy enough to arrange as Watertaxi Rotterdam’s home port was on the wharf just outside the hotel. The trip was scenic and took about an hour to reach Dordrecht.
Find out more at watertaxirotterdam.nl.