I know, it has been a long while since we reviewed another Belgian cocktailbar, but here we are again. This time it’s The Cobbler in beautiful Ghent, located in the spectacular 1898 The Post Hotel at the wonderful Graslei, close to St. Michael’s Bridge. If you have never visited Ghent before, then please do! Put it on your bucket-list, it’s worth it. And while you’re at it, visit The Cobbler too, it’s an amazing place.
Before we talk about the actual bar we have to say a thing or two about cobble(r)s. You see, a cobbler can be a number of things, some are strange things, but no worries, it all will become clear.
When you thumb through the ridiculously large Oxford dictionary (your first reaction is that you should have browsed it online) and look for the word ‘cobbler’ you get the following definitions: ‘a person who fixes shoes, an alcoholic drink, a testicle, a fruit cake, a load of nonsense and the last sheep to be shorn’!
Honestly, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it? We safely assume that the bar was named after the drink, but what is it that all – well almost all – these things have in common? Right, cobbles! And a cobble is – as we all know – according to the Udden-Wentworth scale: a rounded piece of rock between 64 and 256 millimeters in size. So a cobble or cobbler is nothing more than a rounded lump, which explains the testicle immediately. The top part of the particular fruit cake looks a lot like a cobblestone street and the sheep might look like a rounded, white and woolly lump. Now, let’s forget about the shoe-fixer and the nonsense altogether and go straight for the drink.
The Cobbler is called a cobbler, because it was probably one of the very first cocktails that had ice in it. The ice in this case had the shape and size of very small cobbles. At least we assume they were very small, because we cannot imagine a glass filled with 256mm sized ice pebbles. What else went in the cobbler? Well very simple: sherry or wine, superfine sugar and one or two slices of orange. Add some berries for decoration. The one more thing that made it famous and the most popular cocktail in America since the 1850’s, was the cunning use of a straw! Which was necessary to enable you to consume the drink, because of all the ice of course.
This cocktail was so popular that eventually they invented and named a shaker after it: the typical three-part shaker you might have in your own homebar. So this cocktail is actually a big deal: it is the first to use ice, a straw and has its own shaker, apart from that it’s also delicious! It’s soft, fruity, refreshing and full of flavour. It’s a pioneering drink that became an archetypical classic, so we completely understand you want to name your bar after it, it has a ring to it too. It can even refer to the cobbelstoned banks of the Graslei waterway next to the hotel.
So we descended from St. Michael’s bridge and after going hopscotch over the Graslei we arrived at the beautiful hotel (which once housed the city’s postal services – hence the name). It took a small while to find the entrance and apparently we weren’t the only ones because after finding it we were quickly followed by a young couple that sighed in relief and thanked us many times to help them point out the entrance.
We went up the magnificent staircase and quickly arrived at the place to be. The place in case is warm, crowded and cosy. Lot’s of comfy chairs, a beautiful backbar and the original wooden floor of the building. Fireplace burning, library on the left, small open kitchen next to the bar. Yes, we pay respect to the interior designer, it really is the kind of place you hate to leave. It is impossible to spend less than 140 minutes in here and we don’t say that because the service is supposedly slow (according to some on Tripadvisor). It’s not slow, it’s a cocktailbar that serves craft cocktails made per glas right under your nose. This takes some time, especially if you’d just realised that you ordered a drink that requires at least 40 seconds of stirring. In any case I wouldn’t want my drink to be served immediately after I ordered it, it goes against the entire ‘I want to spend an evening with you‘ thing. You can’t just expect: ” Dry Martini, please! Oh, thank you very much. *gulp* Here’s the cash, bye, bye!”
So, relax, enjoy the surroundings and the magnificent views, engage in conversation and have a good time. Your bartenders are none other than David Lebeer and Tim Devriendt and they’re an absolute delight as hosts, passionate and very dedicated about their art, but also very witty and enjoying life. We let the photos speak for themselves.
The menu, although relatively simple and not very original in design, is content-wise very attractive. There’s lots of options here and lots of good bottles, super combos are potentially infinite. Lots of genever too, which is always a plus in our books. The fingerfood is also amazing, especially the Dierendonck Holstein. David made us an excellent Roe&Co Manhattan, with Lustau vermouth and a dash of Poire Williams.
This cocktailbar is luxurious, cosy, well hosted and serves excellent drinks. And if you don’t like it you deserve a kick in the cobblers!!!
P.S. We will tell you everything about Roe&Co in a following article, don’t miss it!
Graslei 16, 9000 Gent, Belgium