by Hayley Caradoc-Hodgkins, The Telegraph, June 6, 2017
It would be easy to walk straight past one of Amsterdam’s most stylish hotels without noticing. Its discreet entrance is set back from the road, resembling one of those grand and painfully chic private homes that line the canals. But what lies behind the front door is The Dylan, Amsterdam's ultra-chic five-star hotel, and its recently revamped Bar Brasserie OCCO.
Located past a dark and cosy lobby, full of stylish 30-somethings lounging next to an open fire, the space is deceptively large, with a sweeping marble bar and an architectural chandelier so striking you'll spend half the evening trying to Google the designer.
Glossy black beams and original brick floors hint at the building's original interior, but the décor is refreshingly modern and sophisticated. Large windows look out onto an enviable tree-lined courtyard garden; had it not been the wrong side of breezy we would have happily made ourselves comfortable at one of the outside tables.
Instead, we settled inside, acquainting ourselves with the 18-strong cocktail menu, split into three sections: Signature, Dutch-inspired and All Around The World, with enough new takes on classic favourites to satisfy the hotel's global clientele.
We opted one of the signature cocktails: a satisfyingly warm and smokey Mature Manhattan (Bulleit bourbon, their own homemade vermouth and Angostura bitters). The Dutch High (Ball), which included the Amsterdam-made vermouth Willems Wermoud, was a little overpowering for me, but was livened up with a subtle taste of elderflower.
The Double or Nothing was light and elegant, sweet and smooth: a blend of Kever Genever (an Amsterdam-made gin), orgeat syrup and finished with fresh mint and Double Dutch pomegranate and basil. Meanwhile the bar's take on the classic Long Island Ice Tea, the Karma Island, felt more grown up than its frat-party counterpart thanks to the added depth of Mezcal.
The bar offers a sharing menu of choice small bites; from the infamous Dutch croquette ‘bitterballen’, to a lighter, Asian take on salmon tartar. We happily devoured a plate of succulent and crisp tempura prawns with white radish, while eyeing up the cocktail menu for last orders: we opted for The New Fashioned ( Zacapa 23-year-old rum with chocolate orange bitters and salted caramel syrup) which was smooth but a tad sickly with a rather clumsy chunk of red bell pepper to garnish.
The cocktail list changes with the seasons: new additions this summer include Aurora Borealis (pisco, raspberries, cava and a sweetened cardamon rim), and the Jap Yum (Nikka whiskey, matcha tea, plum vinegar and ginger beer). Both sound like the perfect summer drink to sip whiling the hours away in the stunning secluded courtyard.