Monday, May 16, 2011

Green Fairies Wear Clan Tartans - Delirium & Floris Bar, Brussels

"Delirium. Just saying." the facebook comment read. Truly cryptic, but easily deciphered as Brussels was mentioned on my Facebook. 100 meters from the Grand Palace, tucked in the restaurant alleys, look for pink elephants and the amber glow cast by light reflected through beer glasses.
Delirium has many facets to explore. Boasting a vodka bar, tequila bar, whiskey and absinthe bar, rum bar, cocktail bar, and beer cave, there is much to see. Look around and discover the different rooms before you start drinking and become fixated with the suds at your glass' bottom.
Meet the vodka bar. Surrounded by 400 vodka selections, that UK couple were drinking beer and listening to blues. There isn't much bar seating, but there is table seating to the left. Notice that it's relatively quiet. Earlier in the day, the vodka bar and tavern sections are open and subdued. If you want to leisurely meander through the books/tomes listing beer and vodka decriptions, this is the perfect hour.
I started with the St. Bernardus Wit. It was a lighter beer and served with BBQ chips. While there I chatted with the UK couple and discovered they never visited Colorado, though they've been to many other states. They hope to rectify this soon. After they left, I consulted the vodka tomes.
These are huge and dense with descriptions, pictures, prices and numbers (making it easy for the bartenders to find your selection). This bar opened May 13. It's always nice finding recently opened places. There was one error. Eristoff Vodka, made in Georgia (the country), was listed under the USA. Oops. Anyway, all their books I looked at are organized by country.
However, I was remarkably intrigued by Le Petite Bleu Wodka with Asparagus. The bartender let me have a free sample, so thank you for your great service. The verdict: keep the asparagus cooked on a plate lightly seasoned or wrapped in prosciutto.
This is the beer cave. I'm not sure what else to call it. It's completely dedicated to beer and related paraphernalia. It's quiet during the day and gets much busier at night.
The place is amazing. It was too packed for my taste, but there is a WC toward the back left. This is important if you're drinking a lot.
Sunday evening brought the Floris Bar open at 8pm and closes at 6am. There are 400 absinthes and I started with the Berthe de Joux at 56% for €6. Pale green color, amazing anise notes, burns then coats the tongue soothing it.
Pouring water over the sugar cube (louching) gave it a muddied yellow color. This gave it a smoother taste. This room features 300+ Scotch Whiskys also. I moved to the bar's other side where it was smoke free.
Scotch was next. Absinthe paired with Scotch is probably not recommended, but I was on holidays. First was the Glenmorangie ASTAR (57.1%, Highland, €6 for 2cl, #252). Being that I was born in Missouri, I was drawn and intrigued by the story of it aging in bespoke casks constructed from Missouri Ozarks oaks. It is strongly spicy, biting the tip of tongue. As it gets to the back of your throat, the scotch smoothens and warms you all over.
They were out of my next choice, the Laphroaig Ian Maclead Chieftain's Hogshead (46%, Isle of Islay, €5.60 for 2cl, #134, 1993), but they were out. Then I decided I would try the Caol Ila 12 years (43%, Isle of Islay, €3.80 for 2cl, #22 I think), but the bartender suggested I compare the smell of this and the 18 year. The 18 year won me over (1991 Signatory Vintage, 46%, €7.30, #23 I think).
The smoky smell won me over. The first note appeared sweet, then moved to smoky and oily. During these Scotch samplings, the trouble started. I was told I needed to sample an amazing absinthe.
Welcome to Absinth 35, an amazing strong Czech absinthe registered at 70%. The very passionate bartender topped off a shot glass, placing a sugar cube and matches next to it. He dipped the cube into the absinthe, then lit the cube on fire, letting the sugar sift into the shot. He mimed the universal symbol to "shoot it", so I did. Wow! It was intense, so intense I had to sit and replay the shot in my mind and taste buds. The Scotch tasting was officially interrupted.
Thusly interrupted, enjoy Absinth Beetle. Each bottle of Absinth Beetle contains giant beetle Eurycantha Horrida also known as Spiny Devil Walkingstick. I didn't try #300, but this beetle probably eats green fairies for lunch.

Overall, both Delirium and Floris Bar were excellent experiences. The staff was helpful and friendly. I very much appreciated the thorough alcohol lists. I definitely recommend going there when in Belgium. Enjoy the rest of these pictures.

Tequila Bar
Rum Bar
Different view of the absinthe bar with absinthes on full display

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