Category Archives: Bar Convent

Brussels Cocktail Week is coming!!

Europe’s capital is preparing for some serious mixing! Finally, we say! From the 12th till the 17th of September no less than 20 cocktail bars in Brussels will seduce you with great cocktails, mind blowing workshops and spectacular guest bartending. So join the party and celebrate a passion for bartending and mixing drinks!

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“We really wanted to organise something to bring everyone together in our own city,” explains Sophie Fence. The brilliant initiative comes from Leslie and Pierre from Green Lab Bar in Brussels. Apparently the idea grew after visiting BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) a few years in a row. “We always had a great time there and in the end we were a big crowd of bartenders from Brussels, ” says Sophie.

Well, putting bartenders together is always a good recipe for fun of course and BCB is obviously great. Seeing, meeting and getting to know your colleagues is vital for a local cocktail scene. You learn so much from each other, every bartender always has at least one tip or trick you’ve never heard of. And the stories, my god! Let three bartenders sit around one table and you can write a novel.

So, the idea as we see it is to unite the Brussels bartenders as one happy family that invites their Flemish and Walloon cousins to a seven day party of bartending passion. We’re very excited about that!

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The Brussels Bartenders Bunch that will be serving you.

Here’s the program:

Monday 11th:

Opening Night @ GREEN LAB

You know, just warming up for the rest of the week.

Tuesday 12th:

Marco Mathieux guest bartending @ GREEN LAB

Marco Mathieux is the Belgian Commander of The Legion of The Cucumber (that means he represents Hendrick’s Gin) and has always been a great inspiration for the Brussels bartenders. Or as Sophie says: “he has always done a great job keeping us together and happy (and drunk).” Marco is very efficient about that, we’re a big fan!

La Prima Donna @ GREEN LAB

A new experience that mixes opera with cocktails by opera singer Diana Aivia.

La Flandre à Bruxelles: Naushad Rahamat guest bartending @ VERTIGO

Naushad from Cocktails at Nine is currently mixing his socks off in Mexico at Diageo World Class 2017 representing Belgium. Godspeed, mate!

La Flandre à Bruxelles: Olivier Jacobs guest bartending @ LA PHARMACIE ANGLAISE

Olivier Jacobs from Jigger’s needs no introduction I’m sure. He is one of the best and certainly the most influential bartender in Belgium.

Food & Cocktail pairing @ YI CHAN

Believe me, Yen Pham knows how to pair delicious food with great cocktails. We can still taste the Wagyu beef sushi and Eastern style Old Fashioned. Hell, we’re salivating on our keyboard again!

Wednesday 13th:

Alfonse Caravan Bar guest bartending @ GREEN LAB

Alfonse is a petite, charming caravan turned into a hip & trendy mobile bar.

Forgotten Spirits workshop by Hortense @ HORTENSE & HUMMUS

When Hortense arrived it was a real eye-opener for many bars in Brussels. The passion, creativity and attention to detail turned Hortense very quickly into an important influence for the Brussels cocktail scene.

L’Apéritif @ BAR AMIGO

This is self explanatory, it’s cocktail hour at Bar Amigo. The menu will focus on Italian liqueurs by Nardini. Ciaooo

Ladies Night with guest bartending by Marine LeBlanc @ ALICE COCKTAIL BAR

Marine, originally from France, now has a cocktail bar in Doornik called: Check-in Bar.

It’s ladies only, but I’ll be wearing my wife’s knickers, is that ok?

Afterwork en Ville @ ODETTE EN VILLE

This needs no explanation. A bartenders job is hard work and a large part of it is tasting of course! 😉

Thursday 14th

Olivier Delaunoy guest bartending @ GREEN LAB

Olivier is bartender at the Volga Bar in Liege and we must admit we haven’t visited it yet, but after seeing some photos it’s definitely on our list. Olivier will mix some curious Hendrick’s cocktails at the Hendrick’s in Wonderland event.

Craft beer cocktails @ DE HAUS

It is trending for a while now and it’s delicious, but it’s not easy to make beer cocktails. If you want to know and taste more drop by at De Haus.

Jameson Masterclass @ BLACK SHEEP

This needs no explanation, if you don’t know Jameson Whiskey you’re not from this planet, period.

Food & Cocktail Pairing @ CHEZ AUGUSTA

Also pretty straightforward. Augusta, by the way is European Restaurant in Brussels.

Friday 15th

Marino Karinja guest bartending @ GREEN LAB

Marino normally works as a bartender in the Bokamorra Pizzaurant & Cocktails in Split, Croatia, but just for once he decided to join the Cucumber Legion and comms to our country to join the Hendrick’s in Wonderland event. By the way, if you have never visited Split before you should put it on your bucket list. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Tiki Night starring Guillaume Leblanc @ STOEFER

Believe me, this is going to be batshit insane! In a good way! Guillaume hails from France’s most famous Tiki bar: Le Dirty Dick. I’m not going to make jokes about the name, I’ll leave that entirely to your own imagination. Ready to have some liquid Tropical Exotica in your glass? Then you better save a seat.

Notte Italiano con Leonardo Leuci @ CIPIACE

Rather fancy some Italian style? Join the Notte Italiano at Cipiace. We all know Italians can party like no other, they’re professional pleasure seekers. I mean look at the ancient Romans and their parties! Leonardo is modern Roman and comes from the most famous speakeasy in Italy: The Jerry Thomas Project. A must visit.

Saturday 16th

A big party @ BIP called: Tap My Cocktail

With – believe it or not – craft cocktails on tap!

Sunday 17th

Blend @ HOTEL MARIVAUX

BLEND is a special event to showcase and bring together all the talents Brussels has in food, drinks and music. A sensory feast to close this exceptional week.

 

More Info

If you want to know more about the Brussels Cocktail Week please visit their Facebook Page here.

 

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Flemish Food Bash is World’s Best Restaurant & Cocktailbar, but only for 1 day.

Ever dined in a 25 star restaurant? No? Well, neither have I, but if you're free on the 5th of July 2015, you can! A grand total of 40 chefs, together good for 25 Michelin stars and no less then 20 bartenders from the top 50 best bars in the world will gather at Oostduinkerke Beach in Belgium and seduce you with what is probably the most sensual food & booze orgy on the globe.

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It says Flemish Food Bash, but it’s not only Flander’s finest you will meet. Actually it’s quite the international crowd. An impressive global line up which turns this event in a must visit for anybody who can chew. Apart from star chefs and top bartenders, there’s also baristas, butchers, bakers and beers galore to fulfil every “burgundian” fantasy you’ve ever had.

They're from everywhere, even Greenland if you please!
They’re from everywhere, even Greenland if you please!

Let’s have a look at the bartenders:

Jigger’s, Belgium

The Pharmacy, Belgium

Marian Beke from The Nightjar, UK

Erik Lorincz from The Savoy, UK

Steve Okhuysen, Old Fashioned, Belgium

Sofie Ketels, Belgium

Didier Van den Broeck, Dogma, Belgium

Maxim Kilian, The Parlour, Germany

Roman Milostivy, Chainaya, Russia

Paul Morel, Belgium

Rémy Savage, Little Red Door, France

Gegam Kazarian, Kazaris Project, Spain

Steve Schneider, Employees Only, USA

Jurgen Nobels, Belgium (winner of Diageo World Class Belgium 2015)

Laura Schacht, Hiding In Plain Sight, Netherlands

Zoltan Nagy, Boutiq’Bar, Hungary

Gobo Hansen, Ruby, Denmark

Julia Momose, Green River, USA

Massimo Stronati, The Doping Club, Italy

Matthew Bax, Trink Tank, Austria

Check out that list, quite impressive isn’t it! And if you don’t know them then come down and meet them, because you should (especially if you’re into cocktails).

Prices for the food or a cocktail are ridiculously low, because the whole thing is a not for profit event. The value for them is to watch and learn from each other…and a killer party of course.

Well, you know where I will be on the 5th 😉

P.S. There’s also barbers, hairstylists, tattoo artists, cheese aficionados, patissiers and street artists, … Chances are very high people won’t recognise you anymore after ‘the bash’.

Flemish Food Bash

More information on:

 

http://www.flemishfoodbash.com

5th of July, Oostduinkerke Beach, Belgium

12:00 – 06:00hrs

Tickets: 30€

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Bar Convent Berlin 2014 – Too soon for the next trend in cocktails and spirits?

BCB or Bar Convent Berlin, is easily the biggest cocktail and spirits convention of Europe. Now having successfully closed it’s 8th edition and welcomed more than 9000 visitors it should call itself EBC – Berlin (European Bar Convent – Berlin). Because – and we quote a female bartender standing in the waiting line – “Holy smoke! Everybody’s here! Really everybody!”
A wild, but fashionable legion of bartenders eager to learn, explore, taste and meet new stuff @ BCB 2014
A wild, but fashionable legion of bartenders eager to learn, explore, taste and meet new stuff @ BCB 2014

A Bartender’s Christmas

And she was not incorrect, I mean 2 days, 9000 visitors, 3 taste forums, 1 big mixology stage, 27 workshops (!), 72 speakers and 3 halls filled with 300 brands later, you really got a good cross section of who’s who in the European Bartending and Hospitality Industry. You also get a weird craving to become a multi-headed octopoid, outfitted with jet engines and the biggest shopping cart on earth. There’s too much to see, hear and taste in two afternoons. Like Ian Burrell – Global Rum Ambassador – said: “it’s a Bartender’s Christmas.” Yet the jingling you hear, is not bells, it’s literally thousands of ice cubes.

Very fashionable, as you can see they easily match their cocktails to their baseball caps
Very fashionable, as you can see they easily match their cocktails to their baseball caps

Trend Spotter’s Heaven

All this makes BCB a trend spotter’s heaven. Some dare say that it was the huge launching platform for the G&T invasion of our country (Belgium). I don’t know if that is entirely correct, but I do understand that if you spot something new and in abundance on BCB, you know that it will hit your deck too, sooner or later. Whence we were drooling with anticipation and excitement. What was going to be the next hit? Who will take over the crown from Gin and his buddy Tonic?

Alas, the ‘big revelation’ did not occur. We forgot that trends rarely follow a Julian calendar. And that they are fed by the consumer public, not even the best and most creative bartender can change that. That is because the best bartender serves people and they don’t force-pour drinks in somebody’s mouth screaming: “this is better, drink this!”

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One thing is for certain Jigger's is really amongst the 10 most influential bars of Europe. Also fox hunting is on the rise, foxes unfortunately not.
One thing is for certain Jigger’s is really amongst the 10 most influential bars of Europe. Also fox hunting is on the rise, foxes unfortunately not.

Rise & Fall?

A few things didn’t go unnoticed though. First: Gin is still wearing the crown (about 50 different brands that we saw). Second: there’s a lot of rum to explore (we stopped counting at roughly 42 brands). Thirdly: Tequila and Mezcal (27 brands) are rising, but will it break through? Fourth: no less than 12 different Vermouth brands ( most people only know one or two, without even knowing that it is a vermouth). Something’s definitely moving here, but it is still yawning and groggy. Then again, if we think of the country that has a rising number of ‘vermouterias‘ and vermouths, realising that it is the same country that restyled the G&T… Does that prove anything, no, of course not. Then again, it isn’t exact science also. We especially loved the Belsazar Vermut (German, yes).

A cracking Belsazar Dry Martini.
A cracking Belsazar Dry Martini.

Apart from that we had the rest of the usual suspects, like whiskey, cognac, sherry, vodka, pisco, grappa, sake, absinth, … you name it. A lot of Bourbon and Rye, but that could have something to do with the USA being the guest country for this year. Michter’s was new for me and a bloody delightful surprise it was!

Mr. Matthew T. Magliocco of Michter's, a dedicated man, very passionate about his product.
Mr. Matthew T. Magliocco of Michter’s, a dedicated man, very passionate about his product.

Lot’s of tonic too, of course. Thomas Henry, for instance, came up with some new mixers, namely: mango, grapefruit and a new cherry blossom tonic. Nice for home bars and garden parties, club scene maybe, but not something you will find soon in any high-end cocktailbar, I think.

Thomas Henry and the new pretty and colourful lemonades
Thomas Henry and the new pretty and colourful lemonades

Also, a funny thing to observe was the large, revolving, circular bar with Campari, Wild Turkey, Appleton and Hendrick’s amongst others. At first you don’t realise it is turning and you feel a bit weird, but then you know it and you happily keep on walking after your drink. A comical sight… and damn good Negronis.

A sartorially stirred Negroni, sir? Certainly, sir.
A sartorially stirred Negroni, sir? Certainly, sir. Please, try to keep up, while I prepare it for you.

Belgium in Berlin

We were also very happy to see more than a few famous Belgian bartenders participating in the fair:

Ben Belmans, who shared the stage with famous Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Jeffrey gave us an amazing workshop on cocktail technique. Question everything, was the big message!

Mr. Ben Belmans introducing Jeffrey Morgenthaler and one of the greatest workshops of the Convent.
Mr. Ben Belmans introducing Jeffrey Morgenthaler and one of the greatest workshops of the Convent.

Hannah Van Ongevalle who (wo)manned the World Class Bar at the fair for a good couple of hours to show her signature cocktails to the public. And they were appreciated a lot.

Hannah working her magic at the World Class bar.
Hannah working her magic at the World Class bar.

Her brother Ran Van Ongevalle who became an ambassador for Belsazar Vermut and made us a wicked Dry Martiny.

Ran Van Ongevalle, our own Belgian Belsazar Ambassador
Ran Van Ongevalle, our own Belgian Belsazar Ambassador

Bart Neirynck proprietor of the famous Bar Herman in Berlin, specialising in – yes of course – Belgian beers.

Bart Neirynck, a Belgian beer ambassador in Berlin. Photo by Jan Zappner
Bart Neirynck, a Belgian beer ambassador in Berlin. Photo by Jan Zappner

Conclusions

BCB is big, maybe too big to see in only two days. Plan who and what you want to see very carefully.

Trends? Difficult and too early to say, but we personally will keep an eye out for rum (especially if ACR keeps on going like this), agave based spirits (if they get a foothold in the bars and I don’t mean only for the bartenders 😉 ), vermouth (but it will take some more time to reach the larger Belgian public). And we will keep a fourth eye on amaro’s (just kidding…or not?). As I said, very difficult to say, while we are sipping our second – excellent – Bourbon Highballer. 😉

Cheers! Enjoy some more photos:

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