Celebration and bubbles, an inseparable duo. Add a feeling of exclusivity and you say: champagne. Champagne exudes pleasure, fun, entertainment and feeling good. For a party you dress up nicely, get in a cheerful mood and put your best foot forward, things we are currently missing. High time to fill a coupe or a flute with sparkling liquid.
Various types and flavours of champagne are available at various prices. At VIAGE, we opted for Taittinger, a prestigious champagne house where tradition, passion and craftsmanship are highly regarded. Taittinger has a rich history which started in 1932. Or actually in the Gallo-Roman era when the rich, chalky soils were quarried to build the city of Reims. As early as the 12th century, the Benedictines kept their wine in the caves thus created. The peace and quiet that prevailed 18 metres below ground were not only perfect for priests at prayer, but also for storing wine. During the French Revolution, the abbey of Saint Nicaise was destroyed, but the 12-km long corridors and cool cellars at a constant temperature of 11 °C survived to house champagne in the 20th century.
Pierre Taittinger, the son of Parisian wine dealers, discovered the Champagne region during the First World War. In 1932 he bought Château de la Marquetterie, built in 1734 in the purest Louis XV style and located in the middle of the vineyards, and also became the owner of a champagne house that was founded in the mid-18th century under the name of Forest Fourneaux. Champagne House Taittinger was born.
Since then the brand has become a well-established major champagne house. In 2005 it was in foreign hands but a year later, Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger bought ‘his’ champagne house back, with the support of Crédit Agricole. Today he runs it with his son Clovis and his daughter Vitalie.
The vineyards cover more than 288 hectares with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunieur grapevines and the method of mass selection is employed. This means that hundreds of different plants per plot, instead of traditionally no more than twelve, are identical reproductions from which the best vines are selected. The result is more natural and guarantees more complex wines and champagnes with more personality. At the same time, Taittinger is preserving the genetic resources of the region with this approach. No herbicides are used and Taittinger supports local farmers who are reintroducing old horse-ploughing techniques by entrusting them with multiple plots of land for this purpose.
After a lengthy process, the grapes produce different types of champagne: a Brut Réserve, a Prestige Rosé, a Brut Vintage or – if it is a remarkable year – a Comtes de Champagne. Once the champagne has been bottled, it goes into the famous cellars and is afforded the time for a second fermentation which makes the champagne fizz up when the bottle is finally opened. The law says that a Brut non-vintage champagne must mature for at least fifteen months. At Taittinger, such a non-vintage champagne gets between three and five years to fully develop its aromatic potential.
And then it’s time to clink glasses. In a coupe or a flute? According to connoisseurs, this depends on the grape used. The champagnes of a Chardonnay grape can be drunk from a narrower glass than the champagnes of the more complex Pinot grape. In the one variety, the preservation of the bubbles is a priority, in the other the development and sniffing of the aromas. Anyway, just pop that cork and enjoy!
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.
‘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.
‘Once upon a time there was…’ is how many fairy tales begin.
This particular fairy tale begins, ‘once upon a time there was not’.
Once upon a time there was not a casino in Brussels. But ‘Casinos Austria International’ wanted to do something about it. The chronicle of how a genuine all-in-one entertainment centre came into being was based on the motto ‘if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well’.
Work hard, play hard… It sounds cliché, but after a busy work week, a little bit of fun and relaxation is definitely more than welcome. Don’t know where to go or what to do? No problem! We have the perfect suggestion: what about a trip to our beautiful capital B?
The Christmas season has finally arrived and that means our capital is again transformed into a true winter wonderland. The entire month, you’ll be able to enjoy wonderful Christmas entertainment and cosy quality time with friends and family in the heart of Brussels.
After spending the summer in Knokke, Jay Gatsby and his decadent entourage return to VIAGE for some good ‘old glamour, mystery and sensation. The Great Gatsby Immersive is a unique experience that’ll submerge you in the atmosphere of the wild 20’s. A time where ladies removed their tight corsets and dressed more comfortably.
Historically Belgium is not only known for its cultural and gastronomical assets but also for its cycling champions. In total the Tour de France has already crossed our Belgian borders about 47 times. This year, the 106th edition of the Tour de France, will be no different.
June 21 has passed and summer if officially here and that means only one thing: the holiday madness breaks loose! While hordes of tourists cross the borders to places where they leave their towels and reserve a chair at the pool, you get a far better deal. How so? You can choose a tropical destination that is situated around the corner and that is still hidden from mass tourism. Sounds like it’s too good to be true? Discover it for yourself and have a cocktail at the VIAGE cocktail bar: a hidden gem in our casino.