Get to Know Pierre Pegand – Head Barman at The Bar
This mixologist maestro knows his way around the Belgian beer catalogue and isn’t afraid to put his reputation on the line promising to convert you to his world of Chambord inspired cocktails. Pierre talks to us about what makes Brussels so special, why The Hotel is the only choice for cocktails in the city, and how to always get the barman’s attention when you’re trying to order a drink.
Tell us a little about your bar experience?
I learnt under Nicolas Everrard (a previous Best Barman in Belgium winner, and creator of some of the city’s most loved cocktails) and he helped me fall in love with this profession. My goal under Nicolas, and still today at The Bar is to be the best barman in the city and create cocktails that convert even the most sceptical drinker.
Pierre – you’ve travelled, you’ve worked in different places – why Brussels?
As the European capital, it attracts a lot of visitors and has a mix of many different cultures in a small city. While many people only think of Brussels as a business and government destination, it has global appeal, so working and living here is an opportunity to meet people from all around the world.
It’s world-renowned, but for those that haven’t experienced it, what makes the Belgian bar-culture so special?
When people think of beer, Belgium is one of the first places that comes to mind. (So much so that UNESCO officially inscribed Belgian Beer Culture on their list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity and with almost 1500 types of beer produced in the country, many with their own unique glasses, it’s no surprise). There are so many different variations, from light summery easy-drinking to dark potent ones that you’ll remember (or maybe not) the morning after. More recently, Belgium has become more famous for their love of whisky as well as distilling and blending to create world-class drinks.
With so many options in and around the city, why choose The Bar?
More than anything it is the quality of service, that’s what is most important. We share our passion in every glass. I love what I do, and customers can feel it when they get their first sip. And while I specialise in cocktail creations, The Bar has added a selection of hand-picked beers to the menu, making it, in my opinion, the most valuable bar in the city for a complete Belgian bar experience.
What is your favourite drink on the menu?
It has to be Chambord. At only 16% it is not as potent as many liqueurs but offers a depth of flavour that makes it very easy to mix. Some customers come in unconvinced about Chambord, but even if you swear you don’t like it, I can change your mind by mixing the best cocktail you’ve ever tasted.
What is your go-to drink for home relaxing?
Spending so much time with cocktails at The Bar, means I tend to choose the simpler one-ingredient drinks when I go home. And my one rule of drinking is, I never drink alone. A glass of rum, two ice cubes and conversations with my girlfriend, is the best kind of at-home drinking.
Can you share a cocktail recipe that is especially ‘Belgian’ and your favourite cocktail creation?
Despite what the name suggests, The Black Russian is actually a classic Belgian cocktail. Created in 1949, it’s a strong mix of vodka and coffee liqueur on the rocks. One of my personal favourites though is Red Sky. A mix of whisky, Chambord, port, violet syrup, cranberry juice and lemon zest. Visit us at The Bar see how it’s prepared by its creator and you’ll definitely come back again.
Any tips for customers trying to order a drink but who seem to never get noticed at a bar?
Smile! Not only will it help you get noticed, but it makes the bar team happy to see smiling customers.
What’s your top Brussels attractions for first time visitors?
La Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre including some of Brussels most famous architectural landmarks.
The Atomium. It is a well-known place where you can have dinner in high altitude.
Le manneken-Pis, which is a statue of a little boy who is peeing in his fountain. Not a big thing but this is one of the most famous things in Brussels. A must visit for a tourist photo!
Avenue Louise represents the height of modern luxury in Brussels. It is very enjoyable to ride around the street and shop (or dream of shopping) in stores known all around the world such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci.
What are your top off-the-beaten-track attractions for previous Brussels visitors?
Le Parvis de St Gilles for the festive ambience. This famous square has a daily market and relaxed cafés.
Les Marolles is a popular historic neighbourhood of Brussels, situated between the Palace of Justice and Brussels-South railway station. The perfect area to discover the history of the city and a new side of Brussels.
La fôret de Soigne is known as ‘Brussels’ lung’ and a green space full of nature for when the city is too much.
Festival couleur café attracts many artists during June. It is a great way to enjoy the end of the year and starting the summer.
Union is strength. Working in a team makes you stronger, more efficient. Sharing is an important word at The Bar as well as the Restaurant or The Hotel in general! The more hands we have, the more efficient we get. It is a privilege to work with such a great team at The Bar.