An original Art Nouveau building that fortunately has retained many of its original features. It also functions as a bar and a restaurant that specialises in Arabic and Cuban food. The music they play is also from Cuba. All in all, it’s a strange mixture of Catalan architecture and glorious Caribbean flavours and tastes.
There was a lot of hype when Madrid's famous Marula Café announced it was opening a club in Barcelona, and they have not disappointed. The house sound is mostly R&B, Sly & the Family Stone, Michael Jackson and their ilk, the music is always loud and always 100% danceable.
Set up in 1933 by Miguel Boadas, born to Catalan parents in Havana (where he became the first barman at the legendary La Floridita), this classic cocktail bar has changed little since Hemingway used to come here. In a move to deter the hordes of rubbernecking tourists, it has instituted a dress code.
A shrine to the famous cocktail, which is honoured in Martini-related artwork and served in a hundred forms. All the trappings of a traditional cocktail bar are here (bow-tied staff, leather banquettes, antiques and wooden cabinets displaying a century’s worth of bottles) but there’s a notable lack of stuffiness, and the musical selection owes more to trip hop than middle-aged crowd-pleasers.
This is a serious bar with serious cocktails, the colours are sober and elegant. The name of this place is borrowed from Detective Philip Marlowe, created by the writer Raymond Chandler. The menu seems to have travelled in time and the cocktails are from another galaxy. They make a gimlet just like Marlowe drank, as well as signature varieties that are delicate and served in a classy, chilled martini glass. The Sol y Sombra, with basil, bergamot orange, pisco and Italicus, is delicious. But the most fun is La Mirada de Marlow: you tell the bartender about yourself and he makes you a drink that suits your personality. Much better than going to a therapist!
A truly fantastic, laid-back bar is Balius, a cocktail bar that specialises in top vermouth and cocktails made with vermouth. They describe themselves as "rogueish and fun" but one thing is for sure, their cocktails are no joke. It has a laid-back atmosphere and often features live music. Be sure to drop in on sunday afternoons for live Jazz and aperitifs.
El Cinco has two parts to it. Upstairs you can relax in the magnificent restaurant, but what really gets us going is the basement. This club/cocktail bar is decked out with sofas and vinyl records on the walls and features dance and urban music. It fits every vibe, with a class sound system and areas for every mood: you can dance, chill out, talk, laugh...The best thing is that the club also boasts one of the best bars in Barcelona. DJs Viktor Ollé and Quim Campbell are in charge of spinning the soundtrack and they tell me they're planning a hip-hop party with Flavio Rodríguez for Sundays. A true temple in Sant Gervasi.
This is a real rock and roll bar, founded by people like Charly Raw, who have done nearly everything there is to do in the industry (promoters, journalists, salespeople ...). It's a favourite among those about to party at Sala Apolo after a few drinks. As for the music, they play all the good stuff: from Sly & the Family Stone to the Dead Boys.
It has that shabby look that is shared by all alternative cultural associations. If what you’re looking for is gorgeous waiters, David Guetta on the deck and Absolut with Red Bull at exorbitant prices, you’d better go to Opium Mar. L'Antic Teatre is an old, recycled space, but has one of the best indoor terraces you’ll ever see. An enormous courtyard with vegetation dotted around haphazardly, ideal for kicking back with a beer or two and waiting for the show to begin.
This place is cosy and the food and drink are good, but what's important here is Rafel's incomparable friendliness. It radiates a contagious kindness throughout the place, which makes you feel quite comfortable. A bar that truly makes you feel right at home. Once you've settled in at the Bodega d'en Rafel, you become a regular and make it part of your life, just like so many in the neighbourhood.
This small room brings in big concerts from local and international bands. The second you walk in you feel the dark and divey rock vibe: elbows glued to the bar, the scent of long-ago smoked tobacco and stale beer already breaking down inhibitions and calling you to do all the crazy and borderline illegal things you hear about at rock concerts. There's live music from Tuesday to Saturday, starting at 9 pm.
If you're looking for great live music and equally exciting cocktails, this is your spot. Bajofondo Club features an eclectic programme of DJs and concerts every day. Even better, there is rarely a cover charge and local talent is often featured. Inside it's dark and cosy, and the bar features original cocktails, and one called the Chipotle Sour made with mezcal that you've just got to try. There's food too, and it's finger-licking good. That's not just an expression in this case because everything is eaten with your hands.
One of the most unique bars in the city: Hard rock, '80s metal and, above all, skaters – that's what makes up the DNA of the Raval half of Barcelona's duo of Nevermind bars. At the back, you'll find a half-pipe for some serious urban sport, while street art and broken boards provide the decoration. You've never been to a bar like this before and my best advice is don't try to understand it, just enjoy it.
This is possibly one of the most perfect places in Barcelona. Behind the bar you'll find Jordi Reig, who will tell you everything anyone could ever want to know about the different types of rum and how to mix a good mojito. If you aren't in the mind space for explanations and would rather imagine yourself in Havana, just head out to the terrace and do a bit of moon gazing.
La Javanesa is a cocktail bar that's all about serving up amazing drinks. They serve true marvels of mixology, their own recipes and others that they've found in other world-class bars like the Suffolk Arms in New York. For example, a Dispara y Apunta is made of mezcal, natural pineapple emulsified with five types of pepper and mead for 24 hours, and Bittermens: it is the liquid embodiment of a cocktail obsession. Or a Costra, with origins dating back to 1850, made of brandy, triple sec, maraschino cherry with amaretto, lime juice and a splash of angostura. This place is fueled by a passion for good drinks, and it does not disappoint.