Hotel Amigo, a Rocco Forte hotel in Brussels, is proud to announce 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 Surrealist artist René Magritte, Bar Magritte unveils 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, features twenty 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, some days of the week, as they choose their favourite from Bar Magritte’s evocative cocktail 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.
“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, who consulted on the menu for the Magritte Bar.
With interiors designed by Olga Polizzi, Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels, in collaboration with Sarah Daniels of 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.
On the design, Olga Polizzi, Director of Design, notes: “The bar at Hotel Amigo in Brussels has had a total transformation into Bar Magritte. The specially designed wallpaper in both the inner and outer room is by Adam Ellis, a designer that we have used extensively in Brown’s. 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. 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.”
“This has been one of my favourite projects I’ve 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.”Lydia Forte, Group Director of Food & Beverage
Commenting on the opening of Bar Magritte, Jan Nielsen, Hotel Amigo’s Managing Director and Managing Director Rocco Forte Hotels Northern Europe says: “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. We thank Charly Herscovici and the Magritte Foundation for their enduring support and enabling this wonderful tribute to Magritte.”
About René Magritte
Born in Lessines, Belgium on 21 November 1898, Magritte spent most of his prolific career in Brussels, with the majority of his portfolio created at his homes in the city. Honouring his connection to the city, two museums are dedicated to his life and work — the Musée Magritte Museum which houses the largest collection of his work globally, just a 12-minute walk from Hotel Amigo, and René Magritte Museum, the artist’s former home/studio where he lived for many years with his wife Georgette, a 20-minute drive from Hotel Amigo.
Established in Paris in 1924 with the publishing of the Manifeste du Surréalisme (‘Surrealist Manifesto’), Surrealist art is distinguished by its ‘impossible’ pairings and fantastical settings, infused with symbols from the depths of the subconscious. The movement took hold in Belgium later that same year, with the foundation of the Brussels Surrealist chapter, including their most successful member, René Magritte. The group pioneered the avant-garde movement and was creatively unrestrained, aiming to break free from the limitations of ordinary existence. Among Magritte’s most celebrated works are the infamous ‘Son of Man’ – which sees a man in a suit and bowler hat, his face mostly obscured by a green apple – and the Treachery of Images – a painting of a pipe featuring the phrase ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe)’ – one of the most iconic works of the Surrealist movement.