Between the snobby velvet cocktail bars of the past and the apex of kitsch that sees potions overflowing with smoke, glitter and impossible colours, there's ample room to maneuver. Coming down from a G&T high over the last few years, Barcelona is bearing witness to innovative cocktails as they come back at the forefront of drinks menus, and the most ambitious bartenders in the city compete to invent festivals for the senses that combine alcohol and creativity without excesses. We choose five of these spectacular drinks and toast with affection the return of the cocktail.
To fly from a café-and-cigarettes Paris to Peru, all you've got to do is combine the strengths of pastis and pisco, two types of shock therapy that are sweetened with mashed mango, lemon, sugar syrup and egg white. It's rounded off with the distinctive bitter touch of celery and presented with a rose petal, gold dust and edible silver. Giacomo Giannotti pours the concoction into the perfect recipient that has the shape of the glass and the drink inside living in perfect harmony. Don't be fooled by the sweet and innocent look of that bird – this drink takes hold of you quite unexpectedly.
According to the folks at ArtTe, the chemistry of an unforgettable night has a vodka base with touches of refreshing coriander. The exotic flair comes from Japan, in the form of Midori melon liqueur. And the sweet side is made with lime and orange blossom honey. The resulting cocktail is perfect for a party, with its green delight of citric nuances, or for kicking off a big night out. Pablo Pelatti and Walter Reitano are behind this electric beverage that's served from a refined and sophisticated goblet, just right for an initiation into a delicious ritual.
In the mysterious drinking hole brought to you by Albert Adrià, the cocktail bar is the basic ingredient in a gastronomy of intense impressions. Ahmar, which means 'red' in Arabic, is a creation by house bartender Marc Álvarez. The journey, therefore, begins with the sense of sight and continues through smell thanks to the characteristic fresh scent of fino in combination with cold-infused laurel gin, raspberry soda and oregano. You're transported directly to familiar sensations finished off by elderberry liqueur, Martini and a fine crust of laurel dust atop lime juice. Sublime!
Sophistication served in parts from a 'porró' (the bottle you see in the picture). The from of the traditional drinking vessel shape this combination of seasonal fruits and familiar aromas. Even the name Grota – sea bream in the dialect of Cadaqués – makes a reference to where Manuel Vehí is from. The inventor of the drink now runs Doble, the cocktail bar at L'Eggs, after having worked at El Bulli, Tickets and José Andrés's Jaleo in Washington, D.C. It's made with a mix of gin, strawberry juice, lime and lavender essence served with red-berry cubes and strawberry spheres – a drink as playful as childhood summers.
In the lab of ethanol sensations in the Born that is Dr. Stravinsky, you'll find all kinds of concoctions, some of them home-made with traditional distillery methods. Essential cocktail complements are also made on the premises. When they mix gin, camomile, lime juice and a syrup of herbs (dill, coriander, basil), a potion is created that is in perfect communion with nature and is reminiscent of a freshly cut field of grass. Antonio Naranjo tops it off with marigold and malva flowers. Goal!