Koek en zopie. These two typical Dutch products are lovers, they are meant for each other. Hold your thoughts!  Are you reading this on your smartphone? Great! That means your flexible! Now ask a Dutch person who is closest to you what koek en zopie is. Done? Ok,  now read on to see if he/ she got it right.

Where can you find koek en zopie?

You’ve seen them near an ice skating ring.  I’m talking about the stands or tents selling hot chocolate, pea soup, broodje worst and other food & drinks to warm up after or during your fun activities on the frozen water. In the 19th century paintings these tents were famous for selling koek en zopie.

Johannes Tavernaat (1809-1881) Ice scene with koek-en-zopie tent
Johannes Tavernaat (1809-1881) Ice scene with koek-en-zopie tent. In the Teyler Museum’s temporary exhibition ‘Real Winters’  in Haarlem.

What is zopie?

Koek en zopie is part of the Dutch ice-skating culture. As soon as it starts getting cold, people are warming up to the idea of frozen lakes and the Elfstedentocht. If you ask a Dutch person today what zopie is, then it’s  synonym to hot chocolate. Back in the 16th century people knew better: zopie came from zuipen, meaning to drink heavily. So, originally zopie is an alcoholic drink. On the streets there were rules for drinking, but on the ice all limits were gone. The result: people  got completely drunk with zopie.

What’s in a zopie?

Beer was available everywhere and the taste of warm beer made the people feel warm inside. To enrich the taste they added spices which had just been discovered by  the East Indies Company. Many varieties exist of the zopie, recipes differ per person, per region. Slemp, similar to the Indian chai latte is a mixture of warm milk with tea, spices and a good  amount of rum or cognac,  tastes delicious with a piece of koek. I always thought the koek or  cookie is ontbijtkoek, but traditionally the koek is a kniepertje. A kniepertje is a bit like the base of a stroopwafel only finer and thinner. In Groningen and Drenthe these are regional products and eaten especially around New Year.

How to make -a really alcoholic version of- zopie

Landinwaarts, a Dutch tv- program did an item on the koek and zopie. The culinary author Janny van der Heyden made a Haarlem version of zopie. It’s ideal for rainy and (extremely) cold days and makes you feel tipsy right after the first sip. Here’s the recipe.

  • 1 botttle of koytbier ( a strong & spicy Haarlem beer)
  • 1 bottle of  wheat beer,
  • 100 ml dark rum,
  • 100 gr sugar,
  • 50 gram bread,
  • 3 cloves
  • A bit of cardemom powder
  • Some cinnamon powder
  • Tiny bit of nutmeg
  • Piece of lemon or orange

Preheat the pan and slowly poor in the beer. Add the sugar, spices, lemon and bread. Scald, take the pan off the heat and stir in the rum. Serve the mixture directly without straining it.


Enjoy the Dutch winter!

koek zopie

Want to know more about Dutch culture, food, drinks and traditions? Celebrate the Dutch way of life and join a cycle tour or choose one of the examples for team building events in the Netherlands.

Vera ter Beest

Make your heart b(l)oom and explore Holland by bike with Verita's Visit Holland.
Born on a bicycle and raised in Delft (NL) I love the Dutch countryside. With Verita's Visit Holland I organise bike tours & team events. I take you on and off the beaten track to meet tulip growers, cheese farmers and lords of castles. My specialisation: Keukenhof area, Cheese farm region and Delft countryside. Just send me an e-mail at veritasvisit(@)gmail.com to get more info.

Subscribe to get the latest Holland travel bites
Suscríbete para nuevas recomendaciones de viaje en Holanda

* indicates required

Preferred language newsletter /Lenguaje preferido boletín

Privacy Preference Center