The Cobbler – Hotel Bar with a Stunning View of Ghent
Ghent provides both delicious, traditionally made cocktails and unique experiences. Hotel bars also play an important role here. The concepts are becoming more sophisticated and are inspired by the Golden Age of cocktails and good drinking. They have their own focus and behind the bar you will find recognised and skilled bartenders. Join me on a sip to The Cobbler Bar.
The Cobbler is located in the spectacular 1898 The Post Hotel, a noble boutique hotel which once housed the city’s postal services, at the wonderful Graslei, close to St. Michael’s Bridge. The entrance is a little hidden, but a sign on the street indicates the way. The bar is on the first floor and can be reached by climbing the magnificent staircase, or more conveniently via a lift. The view from the windows reveals a breathtakingly beautiful view of the historic city centre, which gives the bar its significant character.
Why is the bar called The Cobbler and what does that mean? When you think of the streets in Ghent, you think of cobblestones. Could be, but what immediately comes to mind of the experienced drinker is the drink itself.
The cobbler was probably one of the most popular drinks of the mid-nineteenth century and was one of the first cocktails with ice, in the form of small cobbles. Ice was big at the time and brought another innovation, the straw, as a useful tool for drinking the mixture through the crushed ice. Basically, the cobbler is a combination of any spirit, sugar, crushed ice and fruit. So, it is primarily a light and refreshing drink. In its most original form, it is a sherry cobbler based on a high-quality sherry, superfine sugar, slice of orange, shaved ice and seasonal fruit. It goes without saying that a whole page of the cocktail menu is dedicated to this drink.
A bar should take you away from your hectic life for a few hours. The Cobbler has created a pleasant environment to do just that. As an extra, a breathtaking beautiful view of the historic city centre of Ghent accompanies your drinks.
In the Cobbler, you feel a bit like you’ve been transported back in time, or on a film set. There’s a touch of ‘Citizen Kane’ where the big portrait hangs but overall, it reminds me of the lobby in North by Northwest. The interior has everything you would expect from a place reflecting an old-time atmosphere. Wooden floors, high ceilings, lots of comfortable chairs, bookcases, a lit fireplace, antique artefacts all around and a beautiful backbar. The bar snacks come right out from the small open kitchen.
The Cobbler bar team has been shaking and stirring since 2017 and takes you on a pleasing cocktail journey. Drinks are both classic and contemporary mixing top quality spirits with fruit juices, spices and other house secrets that cannot be revealed.
My favourite of the night was a Bamboo, a classic drink invented in Japan. But it is the least Japanese drink imaginable combining French vermouth, Spanish sherry and created by a German bartender. History says that the drink was first mixed by German Louis Eppinger in the 1890s at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama. Its simple and functional elegance – akin to the Japanese concept of Shibusa – is what pays tribute to Japan. Shibusa, summarised in a very highly simplified way, expresses an artistic balance of simplicity and complexity. And this is reflected in the drink.
The service is impeccable, and the bar team is happy to help and guide you. As I prefer my Espresso Martinis best without vodka and with a more prominent spirit, the Bartender took a nice genever and transformed the drink to a better level.
At The Cobbler you are in good hands. And don’t miss one of the Cobblers from the menu. Visit The Cobbler website for much more beautiful pictures than I could ever have taken.