If there's one thing Barcelona has a surplus of, it's bars. Every neighbourhood in the city boasts such an immense offering that deciding where to meet for a drink can be a daunting task. To help you make your decision, whether your tipple is wine, beer, vermouth, or a cocktail, we’ve come up with this list of the 20 best bars in Barcelona. Our Food & Drink editors have taken into account everything from high-end innovation to cosy seating and lighting, with flavour and value for money always high on the list of musts. If you find you need some of the city's best dining to go with that, don't miss the best restaurants in Barcelona. To the bar!
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Best bars in Barcelona
The owners of La Confiteria, El Paradiso and other stellar BCN bars took over this spot, where once stood the legendary Bar Nus. They've swapped beers for shakers and made this a type of alchemist's den where they distill many of the spirits used in their cocktails. The drinks menu is the result of the imagination of cocktail expert Antonio Naranjo: the Camp Nou, made with a syrup of dill, thyme and coriander, house-distilled gin, lime and camomile, has a freshness and flavour like nothing you've ever tried; the Suculent, with tequila and mezcal infused with coriander, and a syrup of lime and peppers, is a knockout.
Negroni is a bar with a classic spirit and a contemporary look. Don't look for a printed-up cocktails menu, just talk to one of the skilled mixologists for a minute and you'll be treated to an unforgettable cocktail suited to your taste. In order not to betray their name, you're guaranteed a Negroni cocktail that will curl your toes, and they also serve a delectable Moscow Mule and Whiskey Collins.
If you haven't had a drink at Boadas, you haven't had a drink in Barcelona. Miguel Boadas, born to Catalan parents in Havana, founded it in 1933, and his daughter, Maria Dolors, carried on the teachings of the modern cocktail bar in Spain. This is no relic, but rather a magnetic spot where the you can absorb local history in the company of unbeatable cocktails. Order any classic that comes to mind for an excellent result, whether it's an addictive Moscow Mule or an impeccable dry martini. And if you can't decide, ask the bar staff to make you a custom design.
El Paradiso got in on the clandestine-bar craze, but it doesn't hide behind a false façade. Its front is Pastrami Bar, where you can actually get a mean pastrami sandwich. But behind an easy-to-spot wooden fridge door, you're transported into El Paradiso – a speakeasy that's not just any cocktail bar. This is an elegant cave lined with wooden slats where Giacomo Gianotti was awarded best cocktail mixologist in Spain in 2014. You'll find outrageous items like a re-distilled whiskey, where they separate the old part of the whiskey that has a woody taste and use it to make a tea sorbet. You drink it, and as it melts with the alcohol, the whiskey ages!
When you cross the threshold at this premium cocktail bar, you'll feel like you're stepping into one of the sumptuous and elegant bars where James Bond himself might order a martini before seducing a dozen women and killing as many terrorists. Vintage sofas, a stately wooden bar, liquid gold and exquisite decorating taste are the ingredients that go into making this such a superb cocktail bar. Here they stick to the classics, but what a Bloody Mary! What a gin fizz! And if you're feeling adventurous, give the bartender a few hints about what you like and you'll get a drink made just for you.
Welcome to this warm little corner of the city, where you'll find yourself surrounded by furniture made from ancient wood, and possibly more than a few clients boasting ties and lush moustaches. The great Josep Maria Gotarda is a real master in art and science of the cocktail. He dismembers the bottles, dissects the shaker, does whatever it takes to create the perfect concoction. Gotarda and his disciples whip up high-flying G&Ts and work miracles with traditional recipes. In fact, his cosmopolitan will have your rewatching the entire collection of 'Sex and the City', and the Moscow Mule can reanimate the dead.
In the pleasantly cool, shadowy interior of Can Cisa, you can appreciate the care that’s gone into the restoration of a neighbourhood bar. Their reverence for the tradition of buying wine from the barrel, plus some local pressure, persuaded them to combine a classic bodega at the entrance, with a wine bar at the back. They stock 300 wines, all from organic or bio-dynamic producers around the world, without chemicals or additives, at accessible prices. Ask for recommendations if you're overwhelmed. You won't be disappointed.
This bar's tributes to Catalan author Pere Calders is not limited to its name. You'll also find them in the books available and even on the menu of nibbles, featuring Mexican dishes, in memory of Calders' involuntary exile to that country, such as guacamole, nachos and quesadillas. The draught beer flows freely, but you've got to try the vermouth. A glass of the house variety is very nice indeed and won't even set you back two euros. And the menu of vermouth cocktails is impressive. Try the one with cranberry juice and gin. Incidentally, the outdoor terrace is one of the area's jewels: You’ll just keep coming back.
If you've got a sophisticated palate, you won't want to miss a visit to Monvínic, a wine bar/restaurant that has become iconic over the years. Even more so since Ariadna Julian took over in a kitchen that cooks up exquisite dishes in every sense. But you're here for your wine, and that's certainly what you'll get. Among some 3,000 varieties, the staff, led by award-winning sommelier Isabelle Brunet, serves glasses (and half glasses) of between 40 and 50 wines from around the globe. If you're feeling peckish, but not up for a full meal in the restaurant, the bar offers tapas by Chef Julian to pair with the wines.
On this spot in the Born they've rejuvenated the old Gimlet bar with a tribute to fictional detective Philip Marlowe. They've kept the wonderful bar itself, and applied sober and elegant colours that bring to mind the ambience of Marlowe's world. The cocktails, however, are from another galaxy. Sure, they make a gimlet just like Marlowe drank, but there are also signature varieties that are delicate, imaginative, perfectly balanced and served in a chilled martini glass. The Sol y Sombra, with basil, bergamot orange, pisco and Italicus, is pure art. But the most curious is La Mirada de Marlowe: you tell the bartender about yourself and he makes you a drink that suits your personality.
This monumental brewery boasts 30 taps, 10 of them dedicated to the house beer, Naparbier. The other 20 are all international and feature every style of beer, lager, ale, stout, etc., on the market. If you love curiosities, BierCab's cellar has a selection of bottles that will leave you stunned. They also serve good food, with dishes like sea bass ceviche, Wagyu tartare with Naparbier beer sorbet, and Belgian-style mussels. For other more traditional Catalan fare, try the hand-cut ham or some nicely spicy patatas bravas.
When you enter the catacombs of Casa Camper, you're faced with what looks like a clandestine Hollywood cocktail bar from the 1950s. Two American billiards tables in impeccable condition preside, the cues hung on the wall, the balls perfectly arranged on the cloth. Lithographs and paintings surround this speakeasy and lead the drinker's gaze to the pulpit that is the bar. If you're up for it, the bartender, who dispenses with the menu and prefers to get to know his clients' likes and dislikes, will serve you a wasabi Bloody Mary that will send your eyes toward the heavens. With a flick of his wrist he may then pull from his hat a strawberry cocoa with vodka and a pinch of chocolate. And the guy gets it right every time.
If you like your beer, this could be your new favourite bar. They pour the best draught beer you're likely to get in Barcelona and, dare we say, the whole of Spain. Waves of liquid gold (the name of the bar means 'glass of gold') are expertly crowned by a cloud of glorious foam. Everything about the beer (its storage, handling and pouring) is a point of great pride. And when you're hungry, know that you're in one of Barceloneta's great classic tapas bars. Elbow in a space at the bar and shout out your order, whether you're in the mood for 'patatas bravas', Padrón peppers, Russian salad, or more from the nearby sea such as prawns, clams, fried squid.
This 'Bad Cat' bar with is one of the best-kept secrets in the Gràcia neighbourhood. Friendly prices, generosity when it comes to the tapas – you even get a free one with every drink you order – tall draught beers, huge G&Ts, and a special warmth. You won't be disappointed by the tapas and pintxos: they use top raw materials and everything is cooked just as it should be. Be sure to try the 'escalivada' with goat's cheese or the home-made ravioli.
The accumulated experience from investigating, visiting, and reviewing bars and wine cellars in their blog ended up paying off for a group of friends who went hunting for bars with character. The first and most tangible was with the opening of their own vermouth house in the Eixample district, which immediately filled with thirsty punters. Small and always lively, this tavern has become a temple to the aperitif, where they also serve a well-poured cold beer and scrumptious snacks (do not pass up the tinned treats!).
La Tieta is just a place with a marble bar that offers good wine, bottles of vermouth and an endless flow of draught beer. You won’t find any classics on the wine list – this week they’re in love with Mallorcan wine, and next week they’re crazy about Galician wine. There’s nothing unusual here, no secret, just good traditional food made from fresh ingredients and with skill and enthusiasm. Chickpeas with prawns, tasty potato omelette, mushrooms with garlic and parsley, amazing olives – the problem is knowing where to start.
OK, so Paris has its pavement bars and quaint lampposts. But we’ve got bodegas like Tano's. A door covered in stickers, marble tables, the smell of long-gone cigars still somehow lingering, and the young woman with the Sunday paper under her arm who chats away as she sips on her vermouth and snacks on anchovies, olives and cockles. Order the house vermouth and you'll be smiling all day, and they also serve an excellent Perucchi, straight up or over ice with lemon and an olive if you ask nicely. If your friends aren't fans of vermouth, there's plenty of cold beer on the go as well.
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.
When you enter the Mandarín Oriental Hotel you're hit with an overdose of Kubrickian symmetry – straight lines and retrofuturistic lights stretch out to the lobby and lead you to Banker's Bar, a refuge for gourmet drinkers, decorated with exquisite taste. Elegant, warm, sensual, and with a ceiling made of safes, this space with sober, metallic tones often offers informal food pairings from some of the best chefs on the planet, and the cocktails on offer are out of this world. The creative cocktails are poetic and breathe life into a parade of delights the chef whips up, including tuna ceviche, beef nigiris, 'tiraditos', makis, 'butichifas' and more.
At La Javanesa, they serve true marvels of mixology, their own recipes and others that they've found in the temple of temples to cocktails, 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: a smoky and spicy delight. 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. The owners and operators of La Javanesa say that this is a place where they don't use measures, just their passion. And it shows.