On a recent trip to London, $100 roundtrip airfare to Brussels was too good to pass up. It was an opportunity to add country #34 to my list, and explore a new cocktail scene. In my preliminary research, I came across many images of the tropical drinks reminiscent of spring break. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with a Hurricane, but they slightly violate my “rules” for cocktails. The bar scene is becoming more sophisticated and I found three great cocktail bars in Brussels worth sharing. (And a couple of photos of a not-to-miss attraction for your sightseeing hours.)
- Address: Avenue Adolphe Demeur 55
- Hours: Monday-Wednesday, 5pm-11pm | Thursday, 5pm-midnight | Friday, Saturday, 5pm-1am | Closed Sundays
- Hospitality: 5.0, very friendly and attentive barkeeper
- Atmosphere: 4.5, cozy and inviting bar, but we were the only ones there
- Drinks: 5.0, super fresh, inventive take on the classics
As we walked up to The Modern Alchemist, we passed a park full of food tents and trucks. Inside, it was cozy and welcoming with comfortable seating and an interesting menu. The bartender was friendly and helpful with recommendations.
I had the Curry-osity (left) which is a concoction of Ketel One vodka infused with grilled coconut, Tanqueray Rangpur gin, a ginger-lemongrass-curry cordial, lemon juice, and milk. It was unique and refreshing. For my second drink, I tried their reinvented Mai Tai which featured three kinds of rum (El Dorado 12 year, Neisson 52.5%, and Foursquare spiced rum). It contained Clement shrubb orange, homemade orgeat syrup, and lime juice. Definitely not your “spring break” version of the drink. It was boozy and sophisticated.
- Address: Coudenberg 66
- Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30pm-1am; Friday, Saturday, 5:30pm-2am | Closed Sunday, Monday
- Hospitality: 4.0, very busy bartenders
- Atmosphere: 4.5, cozy and lively, a bit dark with dead animals in formaldehyde
- Drinks: 4.8, great drink but since I wasn’t feeling overly welcomed as a party of one on a busy night, I only tried one
Walking up to La Pharmacie Anglaise, you know you’re in for something fantastical. After being buzzed in, your eyes are drawn around the space which is full of everything from animal specimens to steampunk decor. Plenty of seating options are available from the balcony, to a hidden corridor, and the main bar and surrounding tables.
I enjoyed the Dust of Rhus. Made from Hendrick’s gin, cranberry juice, sumac (the scientific name is rhus) syrup, egg white, and aromatic bitters. The drink was salty yet refreshing. The bar was great for people watching, the bartenders and the guests. It was definitely worth a visit.
- Address: Rue Antoine Dansaert 161
- Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday – 5:30pm-midnight | Friday, Saturday – 5:30pm-1am | Closed Monday, Tuesday
- Hospitality: 5.0, extremely nice bartender
- Atmosphere: 5.0, super cozy and inviting bar with a chill crowd
- Drinks: 5.0, very creative and thoughtful drinks that tasted great
Life is Beautiful is not only a great cocktail bar, it’s also bright, full of plants (the location previously being a plant store), and charming. The current menu has drinks dedicated to ten local businesses in their neighborhood. And, the bartenders were talkative and friendly. The atmosphere was cozy and inviting. It felt like you were sitting in a stylish, covered porch.
Dedicated to the Herbalist Desmecht, the Calme Toi (left) features eucalyptus infused Tanqueray 10, escholtzia (flower) syrup, Fair kumquat liquor, yuzu, and lemon juice. It was refreshing, citrusy, and pine-flavored. The second drink (right) is dedicated to the AM Sweet Tea Shop. Vi-Tea-Cole is made with Bai Mudan White tea, Benedictine, Cocchi Americano, and lemon juice. The combination results in a highly drinkable tea treat.
If you want to get more hands-on cocktail experience, the bar offers cocktail classes. The classes can be booked through their website. Let me know if you have any other additions to add to these three great cocktail bars in Brussels. I will definitely be back to try more. Cheers!