Jigger’s Coolers & Cocktails – The small details that matter
For a time, Ghent was one of the biggest cities in Europe. In Ghent, you can both revel in the past and live in the present. Today, Ghent is more of an insider tip and home to the country’s largest university with about 75,000 students. The city has a unique character: small enough to be cosy, big enough to sparkle with liveliness topped with an international flair. It’s also a city of music, art, festivals, good food and even the veggie capital of the world. But my focus, as you know, is on the liquid pleasures. Let’s dive into the world of Jigger’s.
Jigger’s opened its doors back in 2012, which means its tenth anniversary is fast approaching. It’s one of those bars that from the moment you walk in, you instantly fall in love with it. One reason is the owner Oliver Jacobs and his attentive and charming team taking good care of you.
What awaits you are high quality, selected spirits, balanced cocktails, elegant glassware paired with warm hospitality and an excellent bar team in fashionable bar jackets.
Once inside you’ll find yourself on the ground floor of the bar. This area has a colourful mural matching the mischievous coasters, a large mirror and a small intimate bar counter. The bar stools are comfortable and I was struck immediately by their height. When sitting, you’re at the same level as the bartender in front of you. Also the width of the counter is smaller than usual, so you can closely follow the bartenders’ magic. There are many little details to discover, many bottles and ingredients, yet nothing looks untidy or out of place.
A staircase leads to the basement where the atmosphere is transformed to what I would describe as that of speakeasy bars of the 1920s with a touch of the 1950s. A huge wooden cabinet is the ideal setting for all the bottles and paraphernalia needed. Everything seems to be bathed in copper tones. Well-placed light sources, illuminated showcases with vintage bar books & equipment, comfortable seating areas as well as the dark wooden wall panelling create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. And for the smokers, there’s a pretty terrace for their pleasure.
It’s cosy, dark and the perfect hideaway.
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Jigger’s has everything on the menu that a contemporary bar needs: cocktails, bar snacks, its own beer, orange wine, cider, and Belgian mead.
The menu changes regularly. Sustainability isn’t just a hip word here. Authenticity, sustainability and the use of modern cocktail techniques are basic principles of the bar. The drinks focus on seasonal produce and foraged ingredients. Syrups, shrubs, infusions, juices, kombucha and bitters are home made and, on the shelf, you’ll find spirits distilled by smaller, artisanal distilleries.
The sum of the above factors is reflected in the drinks: they’re both thoughtful and tasteful. I had one of those rare drink experiences in my bar life that is already anchored in the depths of my taste memory. A combination of Baijiu, homemade magnolia and dandelion wine with magnolia kombucha shrub. Made my skin crawl. I had a few other taste sensations too from the menu. The Fancy Pear, for example, is a combination of Grappa, pear, rosemary and Pet Nat. That really brought a sparkle to my eyes.The drinks were surprising and fun. No need to talk about the classics, they are on point too. Can’t decide what to drink? Trust your bartender; you’re in good hands. And of course, it goes without saying that the crystal clear ice cubes were hand carved.
Regional spirits, exceptional concoctions and sustainability are a very good recipe for a bar. And if it isn’t too dogmatic and trendy it sits perfectly (with me).
I love bars with a magical atmosphere. One that carries me away and treats my palate nicely. If, at the end of the evening, time has slipped away quietly and you find yourself not wanting to leave, that’s probably the best compliment a bar could have. For me, visits to a bar are like little love stories. Some remain a one-night stand, while others never let you go. Jigger’s is certainly much more than a one-night stand. Once wasn’t enough for me whilst in Ghent, the drinks surprise the taste buds and are incredibly tasty, the bartenders are committed to hospitality and also the music treats your ears well. I look forward to returning to this drinking den of “lekker” libations as soon as possible.