Barrels and casks, taps, wineskins, anchovies and contentment. Discover the material and liquid heritage of Barcelona with an extra dose of novelty – classic wines sold from the barrel with their essence preserved in wood, in places where you're treated like family.
In the early 20th century this was a soda water factory, so maybe it's no surprise that since 2013 it's been a bodega – the spirit of the drink was already there when the intrepid vermouth maker Eduard decided to convert it. Cal Marino has a stellar selection of wines, beers, croquettes in loads of flavours, cheeses and small dishes to sample. Try the cooked-to-perfection Spanish omelette ('truita'), the 'cecina' cured meat with artichokes, the wild boar stew, and the gin-and-tonic sorbet, and be on the lookout for new items on the menu to discover. The space itself is quite large, so it's a good option if you go with a group.
Wooden doors painted red. Rows of casks and barrels darkened by the passage of time. Stacks of colourful boxes of beer bottles. Bullfighting posters and a Football Club Espanyol T-shirt. Wood flooring and plenty of tradition. The 'J' in the name stands for Joaquina, the owner's mother. Johnny and his wife, Rosa, are a delightful couple who open their bodega in the morning and close around 4pm. They serve up the classic combination of anchovies with stuffed olives and vermouth, and every night they spend two or three hours cleaning and preparing anchovies so that the next day you can gobble them down: now that's dedication.
Here stands a perfect example of the enthusiasm that traditional establishments (like this one) inspire, and how they can be reinvented without losing an ounce of their authentic character. In 1964, Pedro and Evangelina opened the Bodega Montferry and dedicated their lives to serving vermouth and anchovies. In 2013 they decided to retire, and the clever Alberto García of the 'En ocasiones veo bares' ('Sometimes I see bars') blog didn't think twice about getting his friends Marc and Raquel together to run the place. With renewed energy, it's now a must-stop spot when you want an aperitif, and you can also enjoy delicacies like 'capipota' and sandwiches that everyone raves about.
Time stopped here long before the Barrio Chino area was cleaned up and renamed the Raval. Montse's son, Javi, has taken on the job of serving drinks to whoever passes by with a few coins in their pockets, just as all his predecessors have done for more than 100 years. The clientele isn't the youngest or trendiest around, which is exactly why, if you listen, you'll hear fascinating stories, and learn life lessons. Cobwebs have taken over much of the ceiling, which is hung with bunches of dried herbs, the bullfight posters are the same nicotine brown as the walls. If you ask for it, they'll serve you wine in a 'porró' so you can learn to drink from the spout like a local.
In a narrow street in the neighbourhood of Horta there's a door with a flowering plum tree in front of it that opens onto a treasure of a bodega, an institution in Horta for more than 80 years: Bodega Massana. A dozen barrels of wines (including unusual varieties) with taps welcome you from behind the bar, where the staff seem to always be serving vermouths and draught beers, spicy escargot, 'botifarra' sausages with beans and all kinds of splendid delicacies at affordable prices. They have a small outdoor area for letting a bit of fresh air inside or for smoking; it gets quite popular at times. If you try Bodega Massana, you're sure to return.
Porta is a small Barcelona neighborhood in the district of Nou Barris where places have Mallorcan names and orange trees grow wild. For the last 50 years one of the neighbourhood's most popular centres for spontaneous social gatherings has stood next to the Llucmajor metro station: the Bodegueta d'en Miquel. This small, cosy spot is full of wine casks and bottles – as it should be! – and features tapas of all kinds plus plenty of house specialities to snack on. Head over on a Thursday for the offer of a tapa and a drink for €1.95. This may be the excuse you've been looking for to practise some real-world tourism outside the city centre, and learn just how large and varied Barcelona is.
Tucked away in the Born, the centuries-old Bodega Jané, whose walls could tell 1,001 stories, recently arose from its own ashes in a new venue with more space and light than the old version, but with the same wooden fridge that gave it such character. With its walls covered in bottles, liqueurs and cavas, craft beer on tap, and home-made vermouth, Bodega Jané is where you want to be when you're in the centre of town and you want a good glass of wine and a tasty snack to go with it.
Another example of a bodega brought back to life is Bodega Carol, where you should see the pop display with wine jugs, colourful siphons and vinyl records by local celebrities such as Sarita Montiel and Joan Capri. To complete the picture, under the wine barrels and casks there's a display of a keyring collection that belonged to the previous owners. If you're feeling peckish, try the 'cecina' cured meat, the 'torreznos' (rashers), the cheese selection, and the meatballs. There's a jukebox with rock and rumba music to liven up the experience, and make a fiesta out of your trip to Carol.
Barcelona is full of surprises and places to discover, like this little corner deep within the Sants neighbourhood. The light that hits it at midday alone makes it worth a stop in, but when you consider that Salvat is one of the best bodegas in town, it becomes a must on any wine-lover's itinerary. With ancient trophies decorating the walls and casks that have been around since the dawn of time, the bodega serves up anchovies that have garnered deserved fame and will keep you thirsty for your draught beer or vermouth. And if you want wine from a barrel, order the Setze Vàlvules and you'll be more than content.
Classics from the barrel
An essential part of daily meals in these parts, this is a well-priced table wine with lots of body. It's a grenache and powerful, which is why many drinkers like to dilute it with water or lemonade ('gaseosa').
This oxidised wine comes in both red and white varieties, and is served at the end of a meal as an ideal accompaniment to dried fruit and biscuits. Catalan grandmothers love it as much as moscatel, a sweet wine that is another great tipple to serve with coffee and dessert.
Produced in the Terra Alta county of Catalonia, this is a white wine that's fermented with grape skins, which gives it its characteristic golden tones. It's the perfect partner for a hearty Catalan breakfast.
A sweet white made with the Catalan 'xarel·lo' (or 'pansa blanca') grape. Enjoy it with rice and noodle dishes ('arroces' and 'fideuás'), potent fish specialities like the 'zarzuela' stew, and spicy food.
100 years serving Gràcia
Tere Cercós, together with her husband Antonio and son Jordi, is the soul of the Bodega Marín. With a head of curly blonde hair, she is constantly checking out the place, making sure clients are welcomed, feel at home and are served promptly.
What's the bodega's history?
La Marín was opened as a corner shop in 1916 by Enrique Marín. In 1941 another Marín, Emilio, took over although he wasn't a relative of the original owner. In 1961 it passed to Encara Marín, who, despite also sharing the surname, wasn't part of the same family either; it doesn't seem possible, does it? It was she and her husband Fernando who converted the premises into a bodega and they started to offer croquettes and tapas to clients, a custom that I kept when we took over in 1991.
Hundreds of people have passed through here. Who do you particularly remember?
Our cat, Mini, was very famous: she sat in her chair and everybody said hello to her. She was a part of the bar from day one until 2010.
What is the current situtation for the bodega?
At risk of closing due to the uncertainty created by the new owner of the building.