Hotel Amigo, a Rocco Forte hotel in Brussels, has just announced the launch of Bar Magritte – the only bar dedicated to the life and works of Surrealist genius René Magritte – on 21st November 2023, marking the artist’s 125th birthday.
Inspired by the life and work of celebrated Belgian artist, Bar Magritte will unveil a unique, sensory experience, a new destination cocktail bar in the heart of Brussels combining expert mixology, exquisite design, and a sense of mystery.
The bar’s new cocktail menu
Crafted by world-leading mixologist, the ‘maestro’, Salvatore Calabrese, the bar’s new menu features 20 signature cocktails. The menu has been split into two sections, ‘His Works’ and ‘His World’. ‘His Works’ features ten ingenious concoctions inspired by Magritte’s artworks, such as ‘Shéhérezade’, a citrussy, effervescent Martini; ‘Lyricism’, a sensual celebration of pear; and ‘Magritte’, a sophisticated homage to the artist’s love of red wine. ‘His World’ includes ten classic cocktails drawn from Magritte’s lifetime including ‘Casanova’, a tribute to the artist’s friend Salvador Dalí; ‘Film Maker’, named after famed director Alfred Hitchcock; and ‘Bronx’, a New York classic popular when Magritte lived in the Big Apple. Evoking an atmosphere reminiscent of the Brussels’ surrealist art movement of the 1920s and ‘30s, guests can relax to the sound of jazz or live music on selected days of the week, as they choose their favourite drink from Bar Magritte’s evocative cocktail menu.
“It has been a true pleasure to work with the team at Hotel Amigo to devise this most unusual of menus, reflecting the life and work of one of the most treasured artists we have known. Magritte gave us so much inspiration to draw from, crafting these cocktails was a fun and playful task of pushing boundaries. I do hope guests will take as much pleasure in drinking them as we did in creating them.”Salvatore “Maestro” Calabrese, mixologist who consulted on the bar’s menu
Bar Magritte’s menu also showcases a selection of small plates featuring Belgian classics inspired by Magritte’s favourite foods. Dishes to share include shrimp croquettes, Monsieur Magritte’s Liégeoise salad, calamari carbonara, and Les Amants: “moules-frites” ravioli.
With interiors designed by Olga Polizzi, Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels, alongside DO Design Studio, Bar Magritte’s colour palette is awash with deep jewel-like tones layered with playful textures, complemented by stunning Art Deco-inspired stained glass windows. Embracing the Surrealist theme, bespoke mural-like wallpaper, inspired by Magritte’s “Femmes” (1922), by contemporary designer Adam Ellis adorns the walls, juxtaposed against a striking long brass bar at centre stage.
For Lydia Forte, Group Director of Food & Beverage, this has been one of the favourite projects she’s ever worked on – “The subject matter is so rich and full of inspiration. Combining all the elements – from the cocktails developed by Salvatore Calabrese and our expert in-house team, to the beautiful glassware and uniforms we have selected, to the striking interior design by my aunt Olga Polizzi and DO Studios – and watching it all come to life as the fabulous world of Magritte has been so exciting.”
“We are thrilled to open Bar Magritte, the world’s first and only bar in celebration of the iconic Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte. Art and culture is central to all that we do at Hotel Amigo so it seemed like a natural fit to dedicate our new bar to the enduring legacy of one of Brussels’ most celebrated sons – especially on what would have been his 125th birthday.”Jan Nielsen, Hotel Amigo’s Managing Director and Managing Director Rocco Forte Hotels Northern Europe
Design: Total transformation into Bar Magritte
When it comes to design, the bar at the Amigo hotel in Brussels went through a total transformation into Bar Magritte. In the words of Olga Polizzi, Director of Design, the specially designed wallpaper in both the inner and outer room is by Adam Ellis. The design of the wallpaper is based on an early Magritte painting which Adam has enlarged and extended so that it encompasses the whole area. Polizzi also notes – “Do Design Studio has put together the scheme, choosing the banquettes – green velvet with white piping – and other furniture such as the pink and blue chairs, that work well with the very colourful wallpaper. Do Design Studio also designed the new very long bronze bar and back of bar. Other interesting features are the locally sourced stained glass windows at the back of the bar in the same art deco style, and some unusual lights and tables.”
Following the launch of the new bar, Jan Nielsen, Hotel Amigo’s Managing Director and Managing Director Rocco Forte Hotels Northern Europe also used the opportunity to thank to Charly Herscovici and the Magritte Foundation for their support in enabling this wonderful tribute to Magritte.
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Photos by Hotel Amigo