Looking for perfect mixed drinks with friendly service in a tranquil atmosphere? Enjoy a cocktail in glamorous and relaxing surroundings at The Bar in Brussels.
We both love a good cocktail. Give me a perfect vodka martini, refreshing gin and tonic, or surprise me with something spicy and daring. Andrew has also recently adopted the G&T as his drink of choice, thankfully replacing his penchant for ‘girly drinks.’ I can’t tell you how often waiters serve him my martini, while placing his piña colada in front of me. But I digress…
While there are many cocktail bars in Brussels, we tend not to frequent them. The problem is not the cocktails themselves, (although I have been served my fair share of watery mojitos), but the atmosphere. Rather than stimulating conversation, we normally find ourselves shouting over loud (usually bad) music. I enjoy trashy dance music as much as the next person, but when I go out for a drink, it’s normally to catch up with friends; an impossible task to complete over a bass beat.
So, on the rare occasion we enjoy a cocktail, we do it at home. Andrew has become the mixologist of our house, and prides himself on his collection of unusual alcohols. He’s quite good at coming up with interesting pairings and his chili and lemongrass concoction is still one of my all time favourites. Andrew’s always wanted to take a mixology course, and recently we both had the opportunity to learn from a pro.
I’ll be the first to admit, a hotel bar in my own city would not normally spring to mind when I’m looking to go out for a drink – until now. When the kind folks at The Hotel invited us to learn mixology from their bar manager, the charming and talented Fabrizio, we jumped at the chance.
In fact, The Bar was just about the only aspect of The Hotel I’d not yet tested. After a fantastic meal at The Restaurant, a luxurious stay in The Hotel, and speaking at a food bloggers conference where we tasted the fabulous pastry offerings from The Lounge, I was more than ready to round out my experience.
We gathered at The Bar with a few other bloggers and sipped a perfectly prepared bellini while we grilled (er, politely enquired of) Fabrizio about his bartending background. If you want an example of travel-obsessed expat, he’s it. We were in awe of some of the places he’s lived and worked.
However, Fabrizio fell victim to the Brussels expat trap, like so many of us have. He arrived in the city for one year, under the former Hilton management, and has been here ever since. Like us, he loves the multi-cultural nature of the city and the opportunities it provides. That doesn’t stop him from travelling though, and you can taste his influences in every sip.
Fabrizio told us how important it is to get to know a client’s tastes and desires, before preparing his drink. For him, the perfect drink is one that satisfies the person he’s created it for, as long as it’s not a piña colada (ahem, Andrew). But now, it was time for us to create our perfect drink.
First up: a spicy, saffron infused gin cocktail by the lovely Apolina. We loved this as a longer cocktail with some soda.
Then it was time for Andrew to give it a whirl. Not surprisingly, his was my favourite, (I’ve taught him well), one of my favourite vodkas with hits of citrus, ginger, and chili. Yum!
The big surprise of the afternoon was a Chambord (cherry), raspberry coulis, and port concoction. I will admit to raising an eyebrow when Fabrizio suggested adding Coke, but he definitely knows his stuff!
We ended on a blender drink note: fresh strawberries and figs, with apple juice, rum and Grand Marnier. A perfect patio drink.
Alas, there wasn’t enough time for me to create my cocktail (but this was my secret mission to keep Andrew responsible for my drink making.)
While Fabrizio and his bar staff probably aren’t going to stand back and let us all mix our own drinks from now on, they are open to hosting similar events. In fact, the event we attended was organized at the request of a guest. This could be the perfect team-building event for your next office party. (Hmm, maybe CheeseWeb needs to have a team-building event!)
If, like me, you’d prefer to leave the mixology to the experts, The Bar is the perfect place to do just that. It’s beautiful, relaxing, has comfy sofas and chairs, and best of all, you don’t need to shout to your companions to be heard (unless there happens to be a bunch of laughing bloggers behind the bar).
We’re looking forward to returning to enjoy a drink at The Bar soon. Fabrizio, have that dirty martini ready!
The Bar (at The Hotel)
Boulevard de Waterloo 38,
For more great restaurants in Belgium and beyond, check out our Restaurant Review page.