Tag Archives: Cocktailnation

The Torino Temple of aperitivo returns to Belgium with a spectacular lineup of Negronis

Last year in Ghent, Martini's Caffè Torino was a happy discovery for many visitors. The Italian style aperitivo bar focussed uniquely on Martini's recent re-interpretation of vermouth accompanied by succulent side dishes. In short, a place where you inevitably lost track of all time, aperitivo all night long! This year, 30th of March until the 24th of April, Torino lands in Antwerp transformed into a total Negroni bar with a dozen different style Negronis. Torino's opening night features none other than Naren Young from Dante NYC (voted one of the 50st best bars in the world) behind the bar.

Ever tried Martini’s Rubino and Ambrato vermouth? You should, they’re great. Ever tried a Negroni made with one of them? You should, they’re great! If Negroni is your thing you should definitely visit Caffè Torino – the first Belgian Negroni Bar – this April in Antwerp, here’s why:

Caffè Torino - Martini - Gent, Belgium - 28/06/2016
Well, she’s not the (only) reason, but it helps doesn’t it? 😉

Negroni around the world

‘Play with time’ is one of Torino’s mottos and they take this quite literally. They asked 6 famous bartenders to produce their signature Negroni for the menu of Torino. 6 Famous bartenders from 6 different countries…6 different time zones even. Get the gist?

Including Naren Young from New York, you will be able to choose a Negroni from Chili, Bologna, Indonesia, Dubai or Singapore. I can’t wait to try a Negroni Singapori! It sounds delicious. The Negroni, of course, is a very versatile cocktail. So much, actually that we’ve asked ourselves before what really does make a Negroni, a Negroni? At the very least we’re expecting a lot of diversity. Now, apart from these great international Negroni twisters, there’s also part of our Belgian pride, happy to conjure the Count’s favourite libation.

Venuez Hospitality Show 2016 - Parkloods - Antwerpen - 21/03/2016
Pretty sure this is Bologna! 😉 Daniele Dalla Pola serving his Bolognesi. Beware people, at first the people from Bologna conquered the world with spaghetti, now with Negroni!

Belgian Negroni of The Future

Since Torino lands in Antwerp, they have asked 4 Belgian bartenders to come up with their interpretation of “the future Negroni”. So each week the menu will feature one Belgian special made by: Charly Lebrun (Bistro Des Anges), Didier Van den Broeck (Dogma), Jurgen Lijcops (Bar Burbure) or Manuel Wouters (SIPS). I’m always very curious about “future” interpretations considering how much so many classics have changed over time. Indeed, as far as my opinion is concerned the current recipe we use today for a Negroni is definitely not the recipe from the 1920’s. So trying to project today’s recipe into the future is definitely not easy. Then again it’s always fun to see the bartender’s creativity gone wild.

There’s food and it’s Italian!

Now this should be self explanatory. It’s food and it’s Italian. If you don’t like Italian food there must be something wrong with you, really, you fell down the stairs and can’t chew properly anymore or something. You took on a hobby of fire eating and torched your tongue or it was removed by terrorists during your annual holiday in Aleppo. Italian food is great and if it only resembles a tiny bit of last year’s food, it will be delicious! Pulpo for the win!! Food is provided for by Francesco & Julia, two well known ‘Italo-Antwerpians‘!

aperitivo torino pulpo
The battle was fierce, but in the end she won! Pulpo, Caprese with filled tomatoes and I think chestnut and mushroom cream on toasted ciabatta. This was absolutely delicious!

1600

That’s basically the only thing you should remember. It’s the opening hour of the bar, 16:00hrs. The adres is 2 Sint-Antoniusstraat, Antwerp. We’ll be there at the opening night, if you want to meet me, I’ll be the guy with 7 different Negronis and a plate full of pulpo in front of him, tasting and tasting and tasting and tasting… 😉 Yummy!

torino invitation
If you’re lucky you might get an invitation like this.

Negroni Wars

On a sidenote and for those interested, we notice a possible upcoming Negroni War here. In the red corner you have Gruppo Campari, being the first brand claiming the Negroni as their own and in the blue corner you now have Bacardi-Martini deducing (somehow correctly) that if an amaro can claim a cocktail, so can the vermouth in it! Please people, let personal taste prevail, so do we and nobody stops you from being a diplomat and make your Negroni with Rubino and Campari!

Practical information

Caffè Torino

Sint-Antoniusstraat 2, Antwerp

Thursday 30th of March – Sunday 23rd of April

Open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 16:00

Including Shopping Sunday (2nd of April)

Ciao and cheers!

 

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The 10 bartenders who made it to the Belgian finals of Diageo World Class 2015

After an intense two round preselection we finally selected 10 contestants who will compete against each other for the title of Best Belgian Bartender and only one of them will win a ticket to the World Finals of the most prestigious cocktail competition in the world which will take place in South Africa. Your's truly was elected judge and here's a short introduction to the Belgian candidates. Photographs by The Cocktail Nation.

Judging is not easy. It’s not all fun and games. After about 5 weeks of in bar judging, we finally were able to make a selection of 10 bartenders who will compete in the Belgian Final of Diageo World Class 2015. The prize is a chance to compete against some 50 other countries and become one of World’s best bartenders. Last year this honour was bestowed upon Charles Joly from Chicago. Maybe this year it will be a Belgian bartender, who knows?

First, however, we have to find out whom we’re going to send to the Global Finals. And this will be decided on the 1st of June 2015 at the Belgian Finals. Venue for this incredible event is the impressive Vaudeville Theatre in Brussels. If you would love to be there and see the whole thing live, please register your attendance at the following website: www.worldclasscompetition.be

And now, without further ado, our beloved candidates…

10. Alexis Mosselman – Odette En Ville, Brussels

Alexis Mosselman
Alexis Mosselman

A relative newbie to the competition who positively surprised us with lots of creative energy and enthusiasm. He created his own vermouth for this cocktail and threw in an entire bbq, some boomerangs and the unavoidable straw hats…some swear to have seen a kangaroo hopping past the window during his presentation. Honestly, I can not wait to see his presentation on the finals.

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You hardly expect a bbq on a cocktail competition!

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9. Maurice Vroonen – Casbar, Sint Truiden

Maurice Vroonen - P.S. that's not his usual outfit
Maurice Vroonen – P.S. that’s not his usual outfit

Upcoming cocktail talent Maurice Vroonen decided to ‘Tikify’ Napoleon. Once we got our head wrapped around that concept we feared a second Waterloo, but that just didn’t happen and somehow he pulled it off. A surprisingly balanced and tasteful creation: “Vive l’empereur!”

The battle of Austerlitz in a coconut, please note the Napoleon candy.
The battle of Austerlitz in a coconut, please note the Napoleon candy.

8. Didier Van den Broeck – Dogma, Antwerp

Passion (and probably rum) to the core! If you ever doubted that cocktails are an entire experience and not just a drink, visit Dogma!
Passion (and probably rum) to the core! If you ever doubted that cocktails are an entire experience and not just a drink, visit Dogma!

This man is a drinks wizard and Dogma is a Cocktail Nation’s favourite. He turned a crappy vacation drink into something that should be guarded by beautiful mermaids or the Kraken himself, using vodka infused with a fat-wash of peanuts and his own memoires as an inspiration. This man is the alchemical jedi of mixing drinks.

Liquid oriental dish that screams: "beach!"
Liquid oriental dish that screams: “beach!”

7. Jim Geurts – Triple J, Bilzen

Jim rocking our souls with an amazing presentation
Jim rocking our souls with an amazing presentation

Everybody loves Jim, it’s a huge teddybear with a ‘huggability‘ factor of 11 out of 10. He mixed Michelangelo and Gaz Regan into a jaw dropping array of Negronis. Absolutely stunning, Triple J really can make your day! By the way, one of Jim’s Negroni recipes was just published in Gary Regan’s book: “Negroni”.

I mean look at that, that's a Negroni! and a damn good one!
I mean look at that, that’s a Negroni! And a damn good one!
Mixing Gary Regan and one of the Ninja Turtles...or was it the painter?
Mixing Gary Regan and one of the Ninja Turtles…or was it the painter?

6. Bassche Didden – Dogma, Antwerp

Bassche, second Dogma bartender in the finals, gave a daring presentation with not too subtle thematics, but an extremely quaffable drink!
Bassche, second Dogma bartender in the finals, gave a daring presentation with not too subtle thematics, but an extremely quaffable drink!

Bassche made a drink inspired by “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, so he created a handcuffed pineapple grenade that delivered a flavour explosion. This is the second Dogma bartender in the Belgian finals, do you realise now why you should visit that bar when you’re in Antwerp? Please do and be mesmerised !

Handcuffed pineapple grenade...one word: booom!
Handcuffed pineapple grenade…one word: booom!

 5. Naushad Rahamat – Cocktails@NINE, Antwerp

Naushad stirring liquid delight in a glass. Notice the chocolate cigar in the foreground, yes chocolate.
Naushad stirring liquid delight in a glass. Notice the chocolate cigar in the foreground, yes chocolate.

Naushad created a literal treasure of a drink with Zacapa rum and chocolate cigars. The gentleman’s experience in a drink! This bartender has ‘world class’ written all over him.

Amazing drink by Naushad.
Amazing drink by Naushad.

4. Dries Botty – Josephines, Antwerp

Dries introducing us into the joys of mixology
Dries introducing us into the joys of mixology

This man is a World Class veteran and knows what a jury wants, so Dries opened up a rabbit hole and propelled us into Alice’s well known Wonderland with a Tanqueray 10, syrup made from carrots and grapefruit soda drink.

A Rabbit's seventh heaven! Dries' amazing drink.
A Rabbit’s seventh heaven! Dries’ amazing drink.

3. Hannes Desmedt – Hertog Jan ***, Bruges

Hannes presenting his 13th Essence drink
Hannes presenting his 13th Essence drink

Hannes, best sherry sommelier in the world, decided that cocktails are the next challenge and delivers brilliantly. This man blew us away with a tequila sour inspired by The Perfume and made with ice cubes created with Spa Reine water. An extraordinary experience of flavour and aroma. Remember this man’s name!

I think "wow" was the word, amazing drink.
I think “wow” was the word, amazing drink.

2. Jurgen Nobels – Old Fashioned, Ghent

Jurgen is a passionate liquid genius, truly one of Belgium's best!
Jurgen is a passionate liquid genius, truly one of Belgium’s best!

This man is passionate, humble and f***ing awesome at what he does! He mixes a wicked drink wherever he is, no matter the circumstances. A true disciple of the art. Hospitality, creativity, passion and skillset define him. We’re a fan, did you notice?

A perfectly thrown Blazer variation with Riders On The Storm on the background
A perfectly thrown Blazer variation with Riders On The Storm on the background

1. Ran Van Ongevalle – The Pharmacy, Knokke

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Ran making us a fabulous Dry Martini at the Berlin Bar Convent

Ran is the brother of last year’s famous finalist Hannah Van Ongevalle and he surely keeps the family’s reputation on par! This guy is miracle wonder kid in Belgium’s cocktail world and keeps on delivering wonderful drinks. We expect an amazing presentation by him on the finals and you should rank him amongst your favourites. Foraging the dunes on the Belgian coast side he created an unreal drink and earned his place among the top finalists for the Belgian finals.

Stunning drink by Ran Van Ongevalle, watch out for this guy!
Stunning drink by Ran Van Ongevalle, watch out for this guy!

That’s it and if you are as curious as I am, I’ll be seeing you at the Belgian finals on the 1st of June in the Brussel’s Vaudeville Theatre!

Cheers!