“ Thom de Lagh and Andreas Bosch”
“Iman, Simon and Arjen are faithful members of the bottle club “The thirsty heart”
“The bottle cabinet”
“Rob van Hulst, guide Xavier, Tom Mulder, Bert Raske”
“The Donderjagersclub, on every Thursday of the month”
“Le Pinoit, a Nijenrode students' club, who own a bottle together – the ones who has emptied the bottle has to fill it up again”

Story of a friendship: the Bottle Club 

In 2003 we – three social psychologists educated at the Vrije Universiteit – became members of the bottle club “The thirsty heart” in 'In de Olofspoort'. Our profession and skills unite us, but that's not all. 
by Simon van der Berg

We are also faithful “Olofspoorters”. There we give shape, celebrate and nourish our friendship with the help of bottle number 207- the certificate of the bottle club. The label was skillfully created by late Willem Buijs, artist and body painter, who was also befriended with “In de Olofspoort”. We celebrate this earthly and spiritual amalgam six to eight times a year, on a Friday afternoon, in the most beautiful of tasting cafes in Amsterdam, a real monument to Holland's past. In Riny Reiken hides a trained singer. We heard her beautiful voice in a spontaneous performance of Ave Maria. We don't choose the periodicity of our meetings by chance; the next planned appointment becomes life-extending! (Abram de Swaam has claimed that in some instances people don't die because they have a follow-up appointment with the specialist). The Olofspoort is composed of two rooms, separated by a corridor where the piano stands. We always sit in the back room, with an invariable sign of “reserved” on the table. The table is the entire year ready for us and creates a peculiar bond. The regulars usually sit on the front deck in the room in front of us. Sometimes we get caught up in a pleasurable interaction with other guests who timidly sit behind, in our area.

Swimming-pool and bottle from the cabinet

What do we do at such “Friday-afternoon-drinks”? After the mutual greeting, we invariably order a Belgian Trappist dark beer Affligem from the tap. Riny's reaction: “So, the gentlemen are starting out with a 'swimming pool'? Despite how chubby the Trappist glass is, it is no reason that prevents us from ordering another one. This beer full of character refreshingly quenches our thirst; after all, we don't want to use our bottle for this purpose. Our bottle has been present from the start; through the glass door of the lit up cabinet, its reassuring label shines the slogan “Friendship and Craftmanship”. We drink our Affligem in peace and calm, knowing that afterwards, the bottle can come out of the cabinet. Often, we have to ask the visiting foreigners, who stare at the cabinet in wonder and curiosity, to make room so that we can have our bottle picked up. Riny sets it on the table and, in an instant, we see that the level of liquid in there matches our memory: enough for this session. For our bottle, we gladly leave our neighbours in the lurch.

Then the particular moment comes to check the worth of the bottle in three glasses. Inside, one finds, mostly, old genever or brandewijn of exceptional quality. We approach the bottle, smell, and take sips. The sensation that this last one originates, of old genever mingling with Trappist beer, is inexplicable. Sipping and enjoying, instead of gulping down a young genever with ice. This has a tremendous facilitating effect, although less so in our professional skill.

How do we go about when our bottle is empty? The ritual to which we have grown attached to develops as follows: Riny sets three well-shaped empty goblets for us on the table, provided with beer mats with the numbers 1, 2 or 3 on it, while each one of us gets an extra beer mat. In every glass, there are distilled drinks previously chosen by us that we are to “blind” taste. We do this choosing by retaking a look at the content of our last bottle or by bringing to our memory a drink from a while ago. We also sometimes ask for the menu with special genevers and liqueurs, or we ask Riny for a tip. Most of the time we honour such a recommendation. Finally, three glasses are filled up as Riny masters the beverages in her shop. On the blank side of our beer mat, we design    a simple matrix with the marks 1, 2 or 3. In front of each mark a strip for the registration of our 'observations' on each 'booze', and a rating in the form of a score. “Chemical”, “very sharp”, “corrosive”, “caramel”, “sharp aftertaste”, “a bit like a cold young genever with ice” are veto-judgements. “Fluffy smooth”, “striking climax” make the drink a candidate. We spit out what we don't approve as oenologists do. A huge can of water is ready for us. After the first approval, each one slides their calyx clockwise, and we taste again. After the third tasting, with sometimes a short final check on a previously sampled glass, the big moment comes in which we bundle the appreciations. This discussion generally leads to a choice by consensus. We avoid using the electoral majority. Our profession influences us, here. Because of the friendship, the tasting of alcoholic beverages, the longer than usual swirling of the liquid in the mouth, the tasting of the new full bottle, which Riny took care of in the meanwhile, the mood is restrained euphoria. Simon writes the date and choice on his agenda. The next two Olof visits are spent with a filled up bottle: two  and a half glasses a man per evening. The ones who would study us for a more extended period would see how we sit there in total enjoyment, pleased with the choice made and with the merry knowledge of a filled bottle, despite the bill awaiting us. 

There is an absolute game rule for this bottle. It only comes out of the cabinet if the three of us are together. We haven't violated this rule in 10 years, but ambivalence sneaks in from around the corner sometimes. Arjen and Iman get inquired in the cafe by Simon's two daughters. Motivated   by stories they've heard, their subject was the following: “ How does such a visit of yours to the Olof look like, actually?”. The bottle became then the subject of the conversation. It was more than evident that they wanted to taste it one day, that which her father and his friends so enjoyed.  Despite the tactically expressed desire, the party did not proceed. 

Olof-presents and farewell

We often have small presents for each other. Take Arjen as an example. He has an unique collection of crown stones, drawer caps, jars, toilet pullers. If Simon or Iman find something of Arjan's liking at the flea market, then this is bought as an “Olof gift” and handed out later. Arjen often comes to all of the “Olof-appointments” through the book market in the Spui. We can't count how often that resulted in a book fitting Iman or Simon.

We speak about everything. The sounds of the Oude Kerk's clock, real concerns, our profession, how it is going with our adult children, health, jokes from our field, our professor Cees Boekestijn, opinions on culture, memories from trips to Kas, Olivetta and Bouillon. When Riny brings the bottle we sometimes engage in a personal conversation: her moving to a quieter place than above the cafe, weddings, musical pieces, her then side job at the cemetery the Nieuwe Ooster, fewer tourists visiting the city. The reason for our farewell is, most of the times, that we are expected at home. Also, a second rule applies that we don't go out the door with loss of decorum. No drunkard talk. We come carless to the Olof, but must have enough balance and clarity to arrive home by bike or foot. But always after agendas have been taken out to plan the next appointment. Still, the conversation goes on in front of the door, sometimes, and it might be that we go back inside.       The trip back home follows up, inevitably, in which we usually feel as if angels were leading us.         We wish In the Olofspoort great happiness in their 30th birthday. We swear with this that we will make it to the 50th Jubileum! Thank you!

In de Olofspoort: suppliers

Fam. Rutte, Dordrecht – Fam. Schermer, Hoorn (fam. Blom) – Fam. De Vergulde Poort, Amsterdam (Piet Verhoeven) – Fam. Zuidam, Baarle Nassau (fam. Zuidam) – Fam. Filliers, Deinze, Belgium (Emille Filliers) – Fam. Anker Spirits, Amsterdam – Heineken Brouwerij (Amstel beer) Zoetermeer – Wholesale market De Kweker, Amsterdam