With its striking yellow logo and multi-expansion, international business front, almost everyone in the world knows who/what/where the Bulldog is. When new tokers and tourist’s que to get to the gunnels of Amsterdam, they always make as top at this signature store. The Bulldog markets itself as the living room or Amsterdam and we see no reason to disprove that assumption. The majority of us treat it like one on any trip we make to the city of dreams.
Here at Lilly Likes we have taken it upon ourselves to rate the coffeeshops of Amsterdam for your reading amusement. The Bulldog was one of the first on the list… just as it was one of the first of its kind, in our fair city. We turn to our categories for a unique blow-by-blow of the Bulldog, Amsterdam… where the brand first made its home.
Atmosphere and Vibe
They use the words ‘living room’ but you will never have entered a living room like this. They actually have two cafes nowadays. The first is akin to a 17 year old’s version of a stoner/hippy haven. It lays claim to being the first of its kind in the city and was formerly in a basement. Nowadays it has a graffiti riddled front face and a small seating area… but it is packed with good intentions.
After the success of the first coffee shop (and after several attempts at closing them down did nothing but make them more popular) the coffee shop was regulated properly. They opened a second location… then a hotel, the Bulldog Mack bar over in Britain… and three souvenir shops. It’s an ever expanding business.
The atmosphere is very much a homely one. Everything is dark varnished wood, and nothing is bright enough to hurt your eyes. The bulldog yellow and blue badge is on everything down to the beermats and there are plenty of products on offer. They are masters of branding – but we would like to see more options for consumer amusement while they are on premises.
We gave them a 4.5 out of 5 for atmosphere and vibe. Not bad – but missing something.
Munchies and Drinks
Given that one of the Bulldog chains is a restaurant-bar in Rome, we would expect their food and drinks to be off the charts. They have a Bulldog energy drink of their own creation, as well as a special iced coffee drink that they are marketing. Indeed – their Amsterdam Hostel was the first 5 star hostel in the world.
If you want to eat you need to go to the Bulldog Palace. The coffeeshop has a small menu for food and hot drinks, the Palace has a kitchen and room to cook for you. They have the choice in a rich burger menu, grilled cheese sandwiches (the Dutch Tosti), salads, full English breakfasts, and loads more.
We scored the Bulldog a 4 out of 5 for munchies and drinks. We’d love to see more choice across both coffeeshop NL locations. As it is, they are caught between preserving the history at No. 90, and having enough space for a kitchen.
Pricing in the Bulldog is pretty good. They carry a variety of bud, hashish, pures and pre-rolled joints. They carry Power Kush, Gorilla Glue No. 4, and White Widow as some of their better known brands but offer Polm and Skunk as additional strains in their pre-rolled with tobacco. For those that love a fruitier number, the First Bulldog offers a refreshing mango blend, a tropical special blend, or a tangerine in the Hashish. They also offer a pure grass joint packed with Jamaica strain.
What don’t they offer? Well the menu doesn’t split up what’s Indica and what’s sativa. We know that purists will more than likely say it doesn’t matter… but all their competitors are doing things to make them stand out. A typical menu has a bit of explanation regarding the origins of the smoke. The Bulldog just leaves something to be desired in this respect. Bonus points for being digital enough to display on screens though.
We gave The Bulldog a 4 out of 5 for 420 friendliness. It’s not bad but again, it’s not perfect. They seem to just miss the spot.
This is where The Bulldog excels. As well as the branches in the UK and the Hostel, they run a series of lets in Canada and are involved in Cannabis clubs in Barcelona and Ibiza. The Bulldog team have their finger in just about every pie. From coast-to-coast everyone has seen that recognisable yellow and blue bulldog sticker.
As well as selling the usual Tees, hats, and hoodies, you can get Bulldog lighters, roaches, Amsterdam souvenirs, ladies, men’s, or kids clothing. You get all sorts of smoking memorabilia – from grinders to bongs – and even their own papers.
They have every merchandising base a coffee shop in Amsterdam could have covered, fully clothed from top to bottom and side to side. The Bulldog is the Burka of Amsterdam cafes… are we allowed to say that? No disrespect.
Anyway. 5 out of 5 you mad dogs.
Lilly Likes Verdict
We haven’t been doing this very long, but The Bulldog coffee shop was not only the first coffee shop all round – but also the first we have ever awarded a 5 out of 5 for in any given category. In terms of merch, you can cover your house in Bulldog memorabilia and still go back for round two.
In terms of what we think, here at Lilly Likes? We think that old school stoners will already have made the pilgrimage to the First. We also think that, if they haven’t been yet, young stoners will one day make that same trip. It’s become a right of passage, of sorts.
The Bulldog earns an overall score of 17.5 out of a possible 20 in the Lilly Likes Poll. An impressive score for a place that attracts pilgrims of all ages.
Special Bulldog Edition LIL DAM BOX
Here at Lilly Likes, we wanted to pay homage to this tradition in our own special way. We reached out to the Dam’d If You Do and asked if they wanted to collaborate on a little token of Amsterdam with us. We’re all stuck indoors and unable to travel at the moment – so we wanted to bring a bit of Amsterdam to your homes. Head on over to our shop for our LIL DAM BOX, available now in The Bulldog edition.