Ran & Janah Van Ongevalle: Bar Ran (Bruges)

Ran & Janah Van Ongevalle are the owners of Bar Ran in Bruges. Ran makes us two cocktails, one with Vintage Cognac and Vintage Benedictine and the second with Whisky infused with Coconut Flakes and Oolong Tea Soda

Ran & Janah introduce yourself
Ran and Janah met behind the bar of Ran’s family’s establishment, where they fell in love. Now five years later they’ve opened their place, Bar Ran in Bruges. Janah started as a teacher in Tanzania when she was 18 years old, but quickly joined hospitality and started in restaurants before moving to the bar industry. Her passions include photography and ceramics as well as interiors and she was responsible for the design of the bar. She works on the floor side and created the food menu while Ran focusses on the drinks. Ran started in 2012 at his parent’s venue, but hated it. When they opened their second venue in a casino it changed his mind. He said when you are in a casino it’s always a win because people come to celebrate or to forget. He explained once a guy lost all his savings then came in for a coffee, but he didn’t even have enough money to pay for it. His dad offered to make him a cocktail, but the guy wanted a non-alcoholic drink. He made that drink with so much passion, but the guy didn’t pay attention. When he took a sip you could see at that moment, he forgot everything. He realised he’d never witnessed such a magical moment and it’s when he realised he wanted to become a bartender. Janah and Ran decided to travel the world for a year to find inspiration for their bar. They went to bars in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Cambodia, Bali, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia. Upon their return, they got married, had baby Rumi and opened Bar Ran.

The classic you want to show us
Brandy & Benedictine
60ml of Cognac Courvoisier from 1970
15ml of Benedictine from 1950
Two Dashes of Old Absinthe

The bar you dream of
This is our dream bar, but if magic was involved, it would be bigger with a real lab and a bigger kitchen to prep different foods. And also bigger cabinets for the vintage spirits collection.

What do you do in your time off
Together we go out eating. Ran prefers to chill or buy vintage spirits and Janah loves to go for walks or make ceramics.

The spirit you like the most
Janah: I love mezcal drinks, because of the terroir, full body and it’s pungent compared to most white spirits.
Ran: For me, it’s all about rum, especially high ester, overproof Agricole. That’s what I like.

What makes a good cocktail
Janah: Flavour first, then dilution and balance and all the love behind it.
Ran: I fully agree, I would just add the story behind the drink, like for us, all the herbs are homegrown in our garden. We also grow all the garnishes and for us, that’s all part of the love. Afterwards, of course, it depends on the context for the type of drink you want to sip.

What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Janah: Fresh citrus, especially grapefruit because it’s sour and sweet at the same time.
Ran: Absinthe makes everything better.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
Coconut Oolong
50ml of Dewars Whisky infused with Roaster Coconut Flakes
100 ml of Cold Brew Oolong Tea Soda

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
You should visit Bar Ben Fiddich in Tokyo. In Belgium go to Jiggers in Ghent, Dogma in Antwerp and the Pharmacy in Knokke. In New York, Maison Première for the oysters with a sherry cobbler and in Bangkok go to Bamboo Bar and Ku Bar.

This is our last interview before the summer break. Have a fab summer and see you for our next interview the first week of September. Stay safe and Cheers/Sante

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