Opening a speakeasy-style cocktail bar in a neighbourhood out of the city centre, now that’s daring! In Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek, Ethylo is bravely taking a chance on the endeavour.
You don’t find many cocktail bars outside of the usual boroughs of Brussels and Elsene/Ixelles. So, we were favourably disposed when we paid a visit, one Thursday evening in September, to Ethylo, which opened in Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek at the beginning of the year.
Located on a corner, the place has a limited capacity, with twenty or so seats. The pleasant space is divided into two adjoining rooms, furnished with low velvety seats. A gramophone helps to set the tone of the decor.
The dark wallpaper decorated with a golden fan pattern gives it an art deco feel. Behind the attractive counter, which is tiled in the style of the Paris metro, only in black, works a patron who earned his stripes at Green Lab, among other establishments.
Concoctions and craft beer
He has been making his way in the world of mixology for about ten years. It shows: the man has confidence and skill. What’s all the more impressive is that he puts his heart into his work. His work surface is lined with homemade bitters and cordials, concoctions used to add bitter or sharp notes to beverages. This display is topped off with numerous citrus fruit, which are dried on the premises.
We also noticed that the menu featured plenty of spirits and, we were delighted to see, a selection of craft beers that are worth checking out: Brasserie de la Senne, De Struise Brouwers, Cantillon, and Mermaid, a beer made by people from Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek.
A Seventies soundtrack creates the atmosphere. Naturally, it was an original creation that we ordered, the intriguing “White Negroni” (€11), a fresh and bitter blend of Blanche de Drouin, Gentiane des Pères Chartreux, and Del Professore white vermouth. Although simple, it was an agreeable and striking combination, beautifully presented with a slice of dried apple and some star anise.
To complete the experience, once we had emptied our glasses, we tried the mixed platter (€16). It was disappointing. Given the care that had been taken over the cocktails, we were expecting freshly sliced cold meats and meticulously selected cheeses.
Between the pre-cut ham, gherkins, chutney, foie gras, fillet of duck breast, and other offerings that are hardly worth describing in detail, sadly, the snacks were not on a par with the rest. That is, nonetheless, easy to remedy.