Welcome to the liveliest bar scene on the Mediterranean. Immerse yourself in Barcelona's inimitable style, sophistication and a cocktail or two, with Time Out's guide to the best places to drink in town, as picked by our team of experts.
For all Pere Calders fans – God has heard your prayers. The cul-de-sac named after the writer has recently become home to one of the loveliest spots in Sant Antoni. They have books by the Catalan author, the draught beer flows freely and there’s a selection of tapas that sends shivers of pleasure through the district. Obviously, the best thing to try is the vermouth. They stock four brands, but if you want to try a Priorat, then you should go for the one from Falset. Incidentally, the outdoor terrace is one of the district’s best kept secrets: You’ll just keep coming back.
Inside this stone-walled and smoke-filled lounge, Raval denizens dig the jazz jam on Wednesdays, the flamenco on Sundays and, in between times, DJs playing a genre-defying range of music (Joy Division and DJ Shadow on the same night). A manga-style mural on the back wall, by one of Barna's many graffiti artists, adds to the underground appeal. You'll need to ring the bell by the door to get in.
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. Mourinho could not have been more right: it’s a great place for theatre.
If this were a chart, Smoll would be number 1. There is nothing else like it in the city. A vintage matchbox that you might walk by and not even notice. It is a tiny bar decorated with retro lights, chairs and tables from the 1960s and 70s, a little aesthetic treasure that you can, if you want, take home with you. All the furniture -even the tableware- is for sale. If I ever win the Euromillions, I’ll go straight there and tell the barman with a smile: “I think I’ll have the whole bar”.
This is so fashionable that no-one knows about it yet. It’s the coolest bar in Gràcia because it has neat, contemporary design and good music, and because they mix gin & tonics that go down like holy water. The good-looking modern crowd (with the occasional celebrity) that drops in here is fast outgrowing the available space. The top seller in the bar is the gin & tonic with tea.
OK, I get it. You watch Godard instead of doing sudokus like the rest of us, and you hum Benjamin Biolay while washing up. You wanted to change your surname to Camus but the civil servant threw you out... You didn’t need to bring me to Châtelet to affirm your french bohemian credentials, but it really is the place for you; recycled sofas, dim light, arty projections, shelves stuffed with books, modern but broke clientele… and as if that weren’t enough, the Verdi cinema is only two minutes away! Don’t forget to take your national health specs when you want to make new friends.
Ahhh, Absinthe! The artificial paradise that produces monsters, and this chapel near the port is consecrated heart and liver to the worship of this beverage brewed by Lucifer himself. Dark, dusty, recycled and as disjointed as a bad trip –watch the personalised TV hanging from the ceiling, Argghh! This trippy fleapit offers psychonauts a choice of brands and variations. If you’re into the hard stuff, try the cannabis absinthe: two hammerblows for the price of one. Just the thing for hard times.
Nirvana, Rage Against de Machine and Pearl Jam are all favourites on the soundtrack of this bar where the clients are into grunge, skating, surf and urban sports. There are low tables and stools, and the decoration consists of graffiti on the walls and giant screens for projections of skating videos or videoclips.
Entering the Sugar bar means walking into a dark, red-tinged space where the customers are evenly divided between natives and those from other parts. The low lighting is inversely proportional to the level of the music: a strident mixture of disco, funk and reggae which can pin you to the wall and keep you there for a long time.