With Christmas fast approaching and the evenings getting colder, I have holiday parties on my mind. And parties of course make me think of cocktails. (See how quickly I can get on to the topic of cocktails? ;)) One of my favorite drinks is a well-made White Russian, and one of the best places in Brussels to enjoy this drink (beside your own living room next to a warm fire) is L’Archiduc downtown.
You might ask why I’m writing about White Russians on this blog. Its cousin, the Black Russian, was actually invented in Belgium in 1949 by a bartender at the Hotel Metropole in honor of Perle Mesta, then ambassador of the U.S. to Luxembourg. The Russian part comes from the vodka and the Black relates to the dark color of the Kahlua coffee liqueur – when blended together make for a great after-dinner drink. When a little cream or milk is added, it turns into a White Russian.
Hotel Metropole is no longer a good choice for cocktails but not far away is l’Archiduc, the legendary art deco bar on Rue Antoine Dansaert. Opened in 1937, it became a jazz landmark in the 50s and 60s frequented by the likes of Jacques Brel and Nat King Cole. This place is still as cool as it ever was, with its original decor, piano in the middle and an interesting mix of artists, musicians and the eclectic downtown crowd. The seats and tables are a bit worn out, but still cozy, especially if you find a seat near the windows or upstairs on the balcony.
Besides White and Black Russians, L’Archiduc also has a decent selection of other cocktails from classic martinis to pisco sours. The bar still hosts live jazz performances, including “Jazz After Shopping” on Saturday and “Round About Five” on Sunday, from 5 to 7 pm on both days. If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, check out some live music during “Archiduc Mixed and Shaken Thursdays” starting at 10pm.
6 Rue Antoine Dansaert, 1000 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 512 06 52
Open Monday to Sunday, 4pm to 5am
If you’ve never had a White Russian, I highly recommend trying one this holiday season. Have another favorite winter cocktail? Leave a comment!
Images via The Guardian, Brussels 151 and La cuisine a quatre mains.