The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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Carl Van Droogenbroeck’s Last Call

Carl Van Droogenbroeck represented Belgium at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Cocktails at Nine sits next to a wine bar and a couple of restaurants in a quaint little square next to Antwerp’s cathedral. Its British owner Graham Herbert wanted to create the feeling of a classic hotel bar. Designed by local design company Pure Sang in a range of rich woods and textures, and a palette of warm orange and chocolate – its style is very modern, yet with something of a very chic, comfy club lounge of the 1960s about it. Immerse yourself in the big sofa by the fireplace and relax for the evening after enjoying the many significant sights of Antwerp.

The Bartender

Carl Van Droogenbroeck, 27, has been working in the industry for five years and for the last four at Cocktails at Nine, where he manages the bar. Carl took courses at Shaker BarSchool in London, and credits his knowledge of how ingredients interact to Patrick America, stalwart of the Lowlands’ cocktail scene. He also describes mixologists Tony Conigliaro and Marian Beke as two of his major influences, despite their different approaches, and believes being open minded is the most important skill a bartender can have. ‘Classic cocktails have been documented since at least 1862 when the first recipe book appeared,’ says Carl, ‘I often take a historic approach, it’s important to know the classics, but equally to bring them forward with twists.’

The Drink

The Last Call is a seemingly simple drink based on Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve with its smooth balance of honeyed tones, creaminess and Scottish West Coast smoke. Carl’s cocktail subtly combines this excellent Scotch with the robustness of coffee and gentler herbal notes, while raspberry gives it a layer of freshness. ‘I wanted to make something similar to, yet not as heavy as, an espresso martini for my colleague Patrick (America) at the end of a long night,’ says Carl, ‘I knew he liked Manhattans and this is what we created.’

The Technique

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve • 60ml
Dolin Rouge • 10ml
Coffee liqueur • 10ml
Agave Syrup • 30ml
2 fresh raspberries
NB: Contains 22 grams of alcohol per serve

Muddle one of the raspberries. Add the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and the liqueurs. Stir. Serve in a coupette with the other raspberry inside.

Have a Mad Men moment with your Last Call as you submerge into the low lighting, smooth jazz and neat geometrics of the space. Sleeping at Linnen is just upstairs, so you won’t have far to go to find your bed.

Images by Kris Van de Sande

Carl’s Insider’s Guide to Antwerp

Place to stay
Sleeping at Linnen

Place to eat

Place to relax
Het Eilandje

Place to lounge
La Douce wine bar

Place to Dance

Place to shop

Place to visit

Place to see
MAS museum