Marco Mathieux strikes again!
Bar Bounce at Waalsekaai 44, Antwerp.
The first thought that entered my mind when I stepped through the door was: ” I could stay here for hours”. And really it’s that kind of place. When you sit at the bar you’re surrounded by a happy helter-skelter of bitters and booze bottles, you could almost wonder if you’re sitting at the right side of the bar.
The bartenders on the other side of the bar are Serge Buss and Marco Mathieux. Serge makes all the Gin & Tonics and Marco does cocktails. So it’s part Gin joint, part cocktailbar. Serge even went so far as to make his own gin, Buss N°509, macerated with raspberries, which explains the red hue. I was scared it would be overly sweet, but it wasn’t. The first taste was junipergin with the ‘soury’ fruitness of raspberries in the aftertaste, could be very interesting in a G&T. But I was here for the cocktails.
For all of you who don’t know Marco, this guy is a real Wizard of Tastes. He can mix anything and make it taste good. Also he really goes crazy on the garnishes: sunglasses, bottle caps, barbie dolls, it can all turn up in your drink (quite literally for the barbie dolls then).
Don’t even look at the menu when he’s behind the bar, you don’t need it, just describe what you want to drink or taste.
” I’d like something that tastes like a brick, flash fried in honey, spiced up and smelling like a fruit of which I’ve forgotten the name”.
And he would reply: “Certainly sir”.
Approximately 2 minutes and 25 seconds later, he would put down the drink before you and it will be wonderful. That’s how he rolls, equal parts of creativity, skill and rock ‘n roll.
I had a Tiki-like cocktail called “Monica Unshaved”. Quite the experience I tell you 😉 It had the hind legs of a barbie doll sticking out of it with some barbie hair sticking in…erm strategic places. The glass was wrapped in banana leaves and even the strategic hair got a squeeze of lemon zest, you know, for the aroma’s. The drink itself was delicious, just what I needed.
My friend Wouter had the most amazing Old Fashioned: Mezcal and…pickle juice, yes pickle juice, with the biggest piece of ice he could possibly fit in the glass. It reminded me of the Pickleback I had at the HPS in Amsterdam, for obvious reasons (being the pickle juice and smokey spirits), very tasty.
Geertrui had an interesting non-alcoholic cocktail. I don’t really remember what was in it, but I do recall it tasted quite complex and layered. You experienced one taste after the other, yet everything perfectly balanced.
This is a bar with an amazing vibe where every cocktail is a pleasant surprise for the eyes and the senses. A must visit.
By the way: If you see a bottle that says 250.000 scovilles, stay away from it! There’s a skull on it for a reason.