Evolution: derived from the Latin verb evolvere: ‘to unfold’. In particular, the figurative meaning of ‘development’ is used in different contexts in Dutch. Evolution is therefore an upmarket word to indicate that things are changing, a situation with which we are all now confronted in a profound sense. But did you know that even something as small and insignificant as a card in a deck has also undergone quite an evolution in order to assume its now familiar form?
Probably originating in China, mixed with an Islamic version along the way, playing cards first appeared in Europe in the 14th century. Despite being cursed by the Roman Church and acquiring the nickname ‘the devil’s picture book’, playing cards gained in popularity everywhere. And thanks to the invention of the printing press a century later, were able to spread far and wide. A wide variety of playing cards, numbers and symbols was still used.
In the 16th century, a version with which we are still familiar appears for the first time in the French city of Lyon. The knights used previously are replaced with women and the four stylised symbols – hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs – represent the social classes of clergy, nobility, merchants and ordinary citizens.
The figures of the king, queen and squire eventually become commonplace as king, queen and jack because their order of rank in the game is clear and easy for everyone to understand. At first, they are still depicted standing but by the middle of the 18th century, the double image comes into use and it no longer matters how you hold the card in your hand.
Initially, the ace was simply a number card which had little value in many card games. However, thanks to French revolutionaries, it was promoted to the ace with which the king could be trumped. In 1850 the first cards with printing on the reverse side appeared in London. The joker is an American invention from 1865.
Card games can be classified in different ways, depending on the purpose of the game, the number of players, the main feature, etc. Over time, card games cross-fertilized and innovations arose in existing games. Trump, for example, originally a separate game with separate cards, proved so influential that many games adopted this idea.
The simplest form consists of the players ‘exchanging’ cards with each other or with a player with the stock. Cards can also be ‘played off’. This is when you try to be the first to get rid of all your cards. You can also ‘play away’ your cards on your own, as in Patience. Other games try to ‘avoid loss’. You must try not to get certain cards or tricks. The game ends with a loser, namely the one who gets the ‘penalty card’ or the cards to be avoided, and not with a winner.
In Europe, ‘trick games’ are especially popular. All players have the same number of cards, which they play card by card until all the cards have been played. The rules of the game about who may start and who may pick up the cards are clear. This is called a trick. Strategy and technique play a major role here. Skilled players can influence the game by observing the other players, counting the cards played, etc.
This does not apply to ‘gambling games’. Here the element of chance is decisive. You bet on the right card, the best hand or on convincing others that you have the best hand. Although, of course, some strategy and skill does help. Soon property and money were played for. The temptation to give chance a bit of help increased. Disagreements regularly arose at the card table, resulting in quarrels, fights, legal disputes and sometimes even murder and manslaughter. In short: all divine virtues were severely tested and the ‘devil’s picture book’ was burned at the stake.
Everyone gambled, children and adults, clergy and nobility, farmers and city dwellers. In England, the nobility faced ruin at the card table. For the card addict Lord Sandwich, a special arrangement of bread – the sandwich – was devised so that he could eat with his cards in the other hand. In France, Louis XIV encouraged his courtiers to squander considerable amounts. Evenings spent playing card games, with the possibility of ruining one’s fortunes, became fashionable. The last period in which professional gamblers made a lot of money was on the great ocean liners at the beginning of the 20th century.
At VIAGE we play by the rules. We are waiting impatiently for society to evolve into one in which we can try our luck again together in complete safety.
For one entertainment centre with ten different ways of experiencing it.
We worked on it. Ceaselessly, tirelessly, tenaciously and with firm conviction. For ten years.
The path was not strewn with roses, but we never lost sight of our goal.
Ten years on, Grand Casino Brussels VIAGE was ready to celebrate that dream in festive fashion. In April 2010, ‘Grand Casino Brussels VIAGE’ opened its doors in premises on the Anspachlaan near the Grand Place. The new place-to-be, a genuine temple of relaxation with playing areas, bars, restaurants and shows, was a reality. We were looking forward to starting this festive year in splendid style with all the people who believed in and placed their trust in us in the past decade, who were involved in one way or another, such as the residents of Brussels, the authorities, our partners, our customers,..
In these ten years, we put VIAGE on the Brussels nightlife map. We only need to think of Brussels as the capital of the World Poker Tour, Là Haut VIAGE, The Great Gatsby, VIAGE Grill, etc. We gave VIAGE solid foundations and were ready to strengthen our vision of becoming Brussels’ entertainment centre par excellence.
We were hoping to welcome you for ‘the night of your life’ on Friday, April 24 with a new version of the Viage Musical Dinner Show as the starting point of the festive year. But suddenly we discovered not just a thorn but a whole forest of thorns in our way. Our dream was overtaken by reality and is on hold for a while. But postponement does not mean cancellation. The past ten years were real and genuine.
The ‘Cinna Bar’ is waiting to let you sample delicious cocktails once more. The gaming tables and slot machines are looking forward to bustling with activity again. A distinguished silence has fallen over the Oak Room for now and it is daydreaming about the future when players will come from far and wide again to spend their time here. The pots and pans of the newly renovated ‘VIAGE Grill’ restaurant are hanging on their hooks and the Australian broiler grill is dreaming draconian dreams about spewing smoke and fire. In the ‘VIAGE Theater’ there are shadows of yesteryear: Prince, Kool & The Gang, Paul Anka, The Gibson Brothers, and many others who passed through in recent years. Last year, the sensational show ‘The Great Gatsby’ was still running. And, of course, the legendary Viage Musical Dinner Show began life here.
Our anniversary weekend is passing in silence. The revelry we had in mind is a long time coming. Because we will party! As soon as it is safe to return, we will revive our premises and fill them with activity, fun, laughter and warmth. Our festive year will not pass unnoticed. After all, the number eleven also contains a ten…
Fast cars, beautiful women and a Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred. Three ingredients that will get James Bond out of his armchair if he has one yet. Three is also the minimum number of ingredients that a drink must contain to be called a cocktail, experts say.
Perhaps Ian Fleming still had the number three in his head when he gave Bond the code name 007, thus combining both lucky numbers, although the Vodka Martini may not have been Bond’s original favourite cocktail. In the first Bond adventure, Casino Royale, he orders a Vesper during a game of poker. Yes, a drink named after the only woman who succeeded in touching Bond’s heart. The legend of the Dry Martini came much later in the series. By the way, when Casino Royale arrived in cinemas in 2006, the Vesper’s success was such that Lillet, the Bordelaise manufacturer, was unable to keep up with the orders and completely ran out of stock. And a Vesper without Lillet is an impossibility, of course.
The right ingredients are indispensable when making a delicious cocktail. Nobody knows when, where and how the rules for cocktails came into being, if there are any rules at all. Just as the origin of the name is a mystery. There are various stories, two of which seem slightly more likely.
The word cocktail is said to derive from the French ‘coq’s tail’. During the American Civil War, a bar owned by the Irish woman Betsy Flanagan was packed with American and French soldiers fighting together against the English. Betsy made an alcoholic drink and decorated it with rooster feathers. A French officer was so impressed that he raised his glass in a toast: Vive le coq tail! Since cocktails are still given colourful garnishes today, this seems quite a plausible story.
The second explanation is also French in origin. The word cocktail is said to derive from the French word coquetier, an egg cup. These were used to serve drinks in New Orleans at the beginning of the 19th century. Since jiggers still look like eggcups, this explanation may also contain a hint of truth.
Even before there was a name for a mixed alcoholic drink, there was already plenty of mixing going on. Waking up with a hangover after imbibing excessive amounts of alcohol is timeless. In 17th century London, a certain Richard Stoughton brought out a highly concentrated ‘fix all’ elixir that had a so-called healing effect on a troubled stomach or loss of appetite resulting from excessive drinking or illness. In other words: a hangover cure! The substance had to be diluted with a teaspoon, originally of water, but this soon became beer, wine or a shot of cognac.
Later, in the ‘New World’ where plenty of spirits such as whiskey and rum were available, as well as an abundance of cheap sugar and sufficient clean water, the remedy caught on everywhere as ‘medicine’ that let you unashamedly drink alcohol mixed with sugar.
In 1830, chilled drinks became fashionable and the cocktail acquired the dash of cold water or ice that was still missing. Because sugar does not dissolve well in cold water, bartenders learned to make sugar syrup, sometimes enriched with a raspberry or almond flavour. Variation could begin!
What’s in a name
Cocktails often take their name from real people. This also applies, for example, to the Negroni that we serve in our Cinna Bar. Count Camillo Negroni liked to drink an Americano at Café Casoni in Florence. Because he wanted something different, one day he asked bartender Fosco Scarelli to spice up the aperitif by using the same ingredients but replacing the sparkling water with gin. The rest is history.
Time to get started yourself! Choose the most suitable day for a cocktail evening this week. You can even do so with friends if you keep the contact virtual. And maybe you will manage to make a tasty mix yourself that will immortalise your name. Or try a Vesper or Negroni. Here are the recipes.
2 cl Campari
2 cl red vermouth (Martini, Cinzano)
2 cl gin
Slices of orange
Pour the ingredients straight into the glass over the ice cubes. Stir lightly and serve with a slice of orange.
1 bottle gin
1 bottle vodka
1 bottle Lillet
Pour 3 measures of gin, 1 measure of vodka, ½ measure Lillet (French vermouth) into a shaker and serve cold with curled lemon zest and two olives on a stick.
Feel it in your heart
And feel it in your soul
Let the music take control.
‘All night long’, sang Lionel Richie in the 1980s. Not a problem for young people, but those who have to go to work again fresh and cheerful the next morning should think twice before staying up all night. Unless the rat race of life suddenly comes to a halt, and you find yourself at home indefinitely, whether you like it or not. Dancing can then be the ideal outlet for excess energy and the perfect way to keep your spirits up.
Various studies have already been conducted into the effect of dancing on human psychology. For example, at the University of Derby, depressed people received salsa lessons for 9 weeks. After four weeks they started to feel better and afterwards they said they had fewer negative thoughts, could concentrate better and felt calmer and more peaceful. It is logical if you know that while dancing endorphins are released in our brains. That so-called happiness hormone arouses feelings of comfort, relaxation, pleasure and vigour.
But dancing is not only therapeutic, it also has a very positive effect on our daily life. An Australian study showed that people who dance are not only happier, but are also generally more satisfied with their lives, relationships, health and the goals they have achieved over the years.
In addition, when we move, our muscles relax to the music, allowing us to release daily tensions, especially deep muscle tension.
‘Without music, life would be a mistake,’ said Nietzsche. And he was right because we have a natural instinct to follow the rhythm of music. At VIAGE we have always known that. In our ten-year history, we have already organised various dance parties, from salsa to tango evenings to Brazilian Carnival. In future there will certainly be a lot more to follow and that is why we would like to encourage you to practice all your dance moves now.
Why not organise a Brazilian Night (or Day) at home? With your partner, your kids and all your other housemates, get the dressing-up box down from the loft and put on the most colourful and ornate clothes you can find. Mix a delicious cocktail and/or mocktail, put some tasty snacks somewhere safe and dance, dance, dance. It does not matter whether it is samba, salsa or the tango, as long as you move. Don’t think, enjoy the rhythm, the movement and each other, all night long.
At the moment we are all spending a lot of time at home. Some people are simply continuing to work with the help of modern communication tools and with some adjustments to their daily routine, their home office and house rules. Anyone who is confined to their homes must come up with different activities. Playing games, reading books, trying out dance moves, cooking and much more. We want to get everyone barbecuing.
The art of barbecuing or grilling is highly regarded by VIAGE and is applied at top level in our restaurant ‘VIAGE Grill’. The best quality meat and fish end up on an Australian 360 ° broiler grill. Due to the heat of the grill, every piece of meat is immediately seared so that it remains deliciously juicy inside. Furthermore, no additional fat is required for preparation in the broiler. We only work with the best butchers in Belgium and even in Europe and do in-house dry aging or dry maturing. This process ensures that the meat becomes more tender and develops more flavour during preparation.
Now that we are beginning to feel the spring sun on our face and hands, we can also get the barbecue out of the garden shed or cellar. No equipment yet? Or a terrace, but no garden? Online you can find a table-top version of the indispensable equipment for the true meat-eater from reputable brands such as the Belgian Barbecook. Table-top barbecues are safe and handy small barbecues, usually without a base, that you put on the table so that you can barbecue at the table. Just as with normal barbecues, you can choose from various models using charcoal, gas or electricity. With a table-top model, you no longer have to go back and forth between the barbecue and the table, so you don’t miss any of the conversation with your friends at the table. Normally an advantage, but after weeks of sharing joy and sorrow with just your housemates, you might like to give the dishes an extra twist.
Whether you call it grilling, barbecuing or BBQ, it’s all about the same age-old process of cooking with the help of a fire. About 2000 years ago, the French roasted wild boar from beard to tail on a large skewer over an open fire. In South America they are familiar with barbacoa, smoking or cooking meat or fish on hot coals in an excavated oven in the ground.
With the help of your own barbecue, you can bring ‘VIAGE Grill’ into your own home in anticipation of dinner with us. Holstein, Hereford, Black Angus and Blanc Blue Belge are some of the beef breeds we use and that you can buy from the better class of butcher in your area. Drop by at the greengrocer’s for, for example, paprika, courgette, fennel, mushrooms, corn on the cob or sweet potatoes. These vegetables are all great on the grill, as well as being low-calorie.
Getting the right products or having them delivered, setting up your barbecue, cutting the vegetables, beating sauces and setting the table nicely, before you know it, your day is completely full. If you decide to eat outside, think of blankets to keep you nice and warm. Candles on the table and safely on the ground help to create a festive atmosphere. If you let anything burn at all, or if the dog snatches your meat in an unguarded moment, you still enjoyed the day and you can still enjoy your beautiful setting.
Finally, take some photos: of your dish, your barbecue, your housemates enjoying your festive dinner, etc. and share them with us here. We will choose a winner who will hopefully be able to compare their own grilling skills with ours very soon. Yes, the loveliest, most original, funniest, … photo will be offered a dinner for 2 at our restaurant ‘VIAGE Grill’. Our competition will continue until the end of the lockdown. Get grilling!
Comic-strip hero Lucky Luke, the cowboy who is faster than his own shadow, owes his name to the above-average share of happiness allotted to him on his path in life. In every comic, the poor lonesome cowboy rides into the setting sun after thwarting the villains’ plans and making the world a better place locally.
Being a comic-strip hero obviously has its advantages in terms of having luck on your side. For ordinary people made of flesh and blood, like you and I, being lucky is more of a game of chance. To increase the chances, we like to reach for assistance. After all, you never know.
In a casino, which is about chance, games and luck, a whole range of rituals and lucky charms can be found under one roof. Under the motto: it doesn’t hurt to try, we enable you to benefit from this. No one would say no to some extra luck, particularly in these strange times.
Those who won’t take advice but secretly prefer to err on the side of caution can cross their fingers or touch wood. For a constant feeling of safety, put a four-leaf clover, a rabbit’s foot or a horseshoe in your pocket.
The fully-fledged player goes for lucky numbers. Seven, three and eight are the most obvious. However, that is precisely why you should not choose them. If you want to increase your chances in a game by using a lucky number, then you are better off opting for your own, unique number. And no, it is better not to take the so-called unlucky number thirteen. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Taylor Swift and LL Cool J have already preceded you. Invoking luck by applying the reverse reasoning of misfortune is a well-known technique. So feel free to leave your black cat at home…
Colours also have hidden symbolism often, especially in Chinese culture. Both red and yellow/gold are identified with luck. In addition, red reflects happiness while yellow and gold represent the imperial monarchy.
It has never been scientifically proven that any of these symbols and rituals work. Although…A belief in superstition gives the person in question more self-confidence, which of course helps. So if a football player, a casino visitor or someone who wants to avoid corona feels more at ease wearing their favourite yellow pants, keeping a rabbit’s foot in their inside pocket, or their fingers crossed and wearing a red handkerchief around their ankle, there is nothing exceptionable about this.
Yes, we are closed, and we think – as do you too, hopefully – that is highly regrettable. However, … there is nothing to prevent you from honing your casino skills at home, or from trying out your best poker face in the mirror. Casino games in quarantine – for something a bit different …
Because the aim is not to arrange a casino evening at home, of course, we are focusing on solo activities. A nice game of cards is indispensable in this case.
By the way, did you know that the Chinese invented card games? The first traces of paper playing cards date from the seventh century. According to tradition, Emperor Mu-Tsung played ‘domino cards’ with his wife. Symbols such as a horse, crow, pheasant, fish, or rabbit were depicted on these cards.
Card games were first introduced into Europe in the fourteenth century. The first cards were made by hand, but that was very time-consuming and costly. The printing press was what gave an impetus to card games.
In films you often see artists at work shuffling a deck of cards in the most ingenious manner. Is that something you can practice yourself?
Or would you rather stick with your poker face? As you are no doubt aware, in many cases non-verbal rather than verbal communication is more important. Look out for sudden movements of the eyebrows and lips. That is an indication of nervousness. And if you begin breathing more rapidly, your smart opponents will notice something is up. This can happen when the flop (the first three cards), the turn (the fourth card) or the river (the fifth card) is shown. Your breathing can express excitement or disappointment when the cards are shown. Incidentally, touching your nose or ears is not a good idea either when playing poker. This indicates a certain level of unease that is at odds with the concept of ‘adopting a poker face’.
So find your perfect poker face. Perhaps you can practice during one of our favourite poker films. We are happy to propose a selection for you:
James Bond and villain Le Chiffre take their seats around the poker table in Montenegro. The stakes are sky-high and the tension great. A rollercoaster with special effects that has a surprising climax in Venice.
Matt Damon and Edward Norton shine in this poker film from 1998. Two shrewd poker fanatics play to pay off Norton’s debts. He has just been released from prison and is being pursued by a gang of heavy-handed creditors.
Maverick, played by Mel Gibson, is a gambler who wants to compete in a well-known championship on a riverboat. It is a high-stakes ‘Winner Takes All’ poker game. In order to participate, he needs USD 25,000. To increase his chances, he forges a pact with a female poker player (played by Jodie Foster).
The Cincinnati Kid
The Cincinnati Kid, notorious in 1930s New Orleans, is a true classic. ‘The Kid’ (played by Steve McQueen) takes on the legendary champion ‘The Man’ in a high-stakes poker game. What follows is a tremendously exciting poker game to decide who will become the poker king of New Orleans.
Photo ⓒ MomoFotografi
‘Panem et circenses’ translated as ‘bread and games’ – these are the satirical words used by the Roman poet Juvenalis to challenge the free food and circus performances laid on by the great emperors. As long as people had enough to eat and were kept entertained, they failed to notice the decadence and decay creeping over the great Roman Empire in the first century A.D.
Although originally intended mockingly, these words may sometimes pervade your mind. Who hasn’t experienced that feeling of an empty stomach as you return home after a night out, a show or a concert? Without any shortage of entertainment, but a deficit in the food department? Apart from a greasy snack, after about 10 p.m. there isn’t much on offer on the culinary front. Unless…
Unless you are lucky enough to be wandering around feeling hungry in the centre of Brussels. At VIAGE we understand the need for both bread and games. The entertainment factor of a casino is obvious. The gastronomic perhaps a little less so. However, good food and drink are an inextricable part of the casino experience and across the world, you can eat and drink at affordable prices there. The core business lies elsewhere, after all. The bar and restaurant are an additional service for guests who thus find an all-in-one formula for a successful evening in one place.
An additional service, therefore, but not just any old one. At the end of last year, we renovated our restaurant at VIAGE. The international menu at ‘Saffron’ was replaced by a ‘licence to grill’ at ‘Viage Grill’. Superior-quality meat (such as Holstein, Black Angus, Hereford…) acquires a crispy crust while retaining all its rich flavours and juices on the sizzling-hot 360° Australian broiler grill. For those who would rather not eat meat, we are happy to put a fish on the barbecue. And naturally there are plenty of vegetarian dishes on our menu. We change this menu monthly, so you need never eat the same thing twice.
‘Viage Grill’ exudes the atmosphere of an authentic steakhouse: warmth and cosiness with the somewhat rougher decor of leather and wood. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the casino behind, you enter a different, rustic world where you can enjoy dining with friends and colleagues or a romantic meal for two.
Eating without playing is allowed, of course. To access the restaurant, you do need a membership card from Grand Casino Brussels VIAGE. You request this once at reception and it costs €10. In exchange, you get €5 in casino chips and a delicious welcome cocktail. And subsequently, you simply walk in on presentation of this card. If you are making an online booking for VIAGE, the membership card is free. A warm welcome – the way it should be! Incidentally, don’t forget that you must be over 21 years of age to enter the casino.
Viage Grill is always open from 6 p.m. until midnight. On Fridays and Saturdays, a limited menu is available until 3 a.m. and on other days, until 2 a.m.