Comidas Con Onda: Amsterdam Accepts Monkeys for Beer

There is simply too much to say about our visit to Amsterdam, from countless internationally renowned museums, intriguing architecture, year-round festivals, immense flower (tulips!) and farmer’s markets, moving through the whole city on bike, boat rides through its quaint canals, coffee shops, delicious Dutch and international food, and the list goes on and on seemingly infinitely. The city vibrates with culture and history, and one of the places that is most outstanding for me is In’t Aepjen, one of the city’s most interesting pubs in one of its oldest buildings.

We stayed with a Dutch friend, Carolien, for four days who was generous enough to welcome us into her home, show us around the city and give us some insight into Dutch culture. On one of our walks through the city, Carolien, told us the story about In’t Aepjen…

In its golden age, Amsterdam was a major port city for the Dutch Empire. As you can image sailors roamed the streets, stayed at local inns and drank at pubs, and quite possibly pissed and fell drunk into the canals which our friend Carolien told us that even Dutch today are guilty of doing in addition to losing their beloved bikes to the still watered canals.

 (Photo: Anton F,
So, apparently these sailors didn’t have a knack for money management, and once they were on sweet land, some of them spent a little more than they could bargain and went into debt, including at the In’t Aepjen. Who can resist Dutch beer?

So, what does all of this have to do with monkeys? The Dutch colonized the East Indies, and sailors who were back and forth from Amsterdam and the islands would promise to bring back exotic goodies to pay back their bar debts. The Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) even recruited sailors at pubs, shoving month-long contracts under sailor’s drunken noses without a flinch. Some sailors had the bright idea to bring back monkeys to pay off their debts and, needless to say, In’t Aepjen accepted.  I wonder if this worked the same way in the Red Light District? I digress…

The pub also gets its name from the fury and exotic animal; Aapje is Old Dutch for small monkey! (Photo:

It was pretty popular to have pet monkeys hanging around the bar entertaining people, but they brought a swarm of fleas with them. The Dutch pub clientele decided that’s where they drew the line! No scratching, no fleas, just good ol´ beer!

Notice that the bar is decked out in solid wood, which makes it one of two existing buildings of its kind. In 1452, a devastating fire destroyed much of the Amsterdam and wooden homes and buildings were the first to be easily wiped out which is why you see the prevalence of more fire resistance brick structures in Amsterdam.

See that cool wooden staircase? It literally leads nowhere. (Photo: Anton F,

If you’re wondering where all those monkeys went after the pubs got rid of them, that’s another story and post on how the Amsterdam zoo started.

More info: 

Address Zeedijk 1, 1012 AN Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s on the corner of the Zeedijk, near central Station, Chinatown, and the Red Light District

View Larger Map

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