Ah, the gin and tonic. You used to think of it as your granny's drink, but since they started mixing top-shelf gins with exotic tonics and floating the likes of licorice and cucumber in, things have changed. Read on for the best bars in Barcelona to try a modernly delicious G&T.
You don't mess with intrepid barman Javier de las Muelas. In fact, you don't mess with anything about this legendary cocktail bar that's internationally recognised as one of the best on the planet. They're very clever behind the bar, where the most complicated choreographies are staged, and all dedicated to the cocktail. Whatever you do, don't leave without trying the house concoction, the Dry Martini, which is unbeatable in Barcelona, and one of the most masterful creations of De las Muelas. Despite crowds and the barman's bark, Dry Martini continues to be a benchmark cocktail bar. And that, good readers, isn't just a cocktail bar. It's a church.
Negroni bar has a classical spirit, but a contemporary look. The place is painted in an extremely elegant black, that make a huge difference with the aged wood post-transition decoration, so common in older cocktail bars. They have no cocktails menu, but you just have to answer a couple of questions in order to have a cocktail you’ll never forget in front of you. They prepare a Negroni cocktail that will make your head spin like the girl from 'The Exorcist', and they also served a good Moscow Mule and the Whiskey Collins.
That sentence written in all the guidebooks about the 'incomparable setting' was likely invented to talk about Torre Rosa. Drinking a cocktail in a house formerly owned by one of the 'indios' or 'Americanos' (Catalans who left and made good on the other side of the pond and then returned to spend their wealth) can have a hand in making your heart skip a beat or two. 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.
This tea shop named after an Indian island features carved wood stools and tables decorated with a collage of images from newspapers and magazines. Sit a spell and play chess or other table games while you have a cuppa. After 10pm, enjoy the 'happy hour' menu of gin and tonics and other cocktails. You won't even miss a message on your mobile thanks to their WiFi connection.
Don't let the austere entrance fool you. You might even waltz right in without noticing the curious drawing of the two men on a tandem bike. Maybe it's the curtains at the entrance that give this cocktail bar an air of intimacy that gourmet drinkers love so much. Tandem is an exceptional cocktail bar. Young bartenders dressed like old-timey drinks mixers grab from an endless selection of boozy treats with magic hands prepared to whip up any recipe with a sniper's marksmanship. Beware of the gin fizz: after the second, you'll even be singing the praises of your long-suffered mother-in-law.
I feel like going to Twist one night and using the cheesy line 'What is a girl like you doing in a place like this?' on them, because the location of this cocktail bar is a mystery on a par with the Holy Trinity. It really shouldn’t be here, one of the best cocktail bars in Barcelona marooned on this mundane, boring street where it languishes between a school and a car-repair shop. Too many people already know about it, for which I and Time Out Barcelona must take some of the blame, but the gin cocktails they mix here can make you believe in eternal life, or at least the resurrection of the dead.
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 would make James Bond change religion, leave behind the liturgy of the dry matini and go out on the town with the girls from 'Sex and the City'.
Xix (pronounced 'chicks', and a play on the street number, among other things) is a newish, unconventional cocktail bar in the candlelit surroundings of a prettily tiled former 'granja' (milk bar). It's exceedingly cosy and just a little bit scruffy, which makes the list of 20 brands of gin all the more unexpected.
Bobby Gin is a modern, comfortable bar where even the air you breathe is of high quality, as is the décor, with a bar made from old doors, and the loo door from a wardrobe. As you might suspect, they're G&T specialists and so have a great selection of premium brands. If you're a newcomer to this ethylic delight, Francesco Giardino can be your guide. He knows just how to match your taste to just the right combination of G&T. If you're feeling peckish, there's also a deli food section.
Solange is run by the Pernías, a family of mixologists who are already well-known for their Tandem Cocktail Bar (see above). Their newer venture is a a delightful golden space that makes you feel like you're an extra in a James Bond film. 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. The Pernías have stuck with the classics when it comes to their concoctions: no modern ornaments, no exotic flowers sticking out of your glass to poke your eye out. After all, why change a back-to-the-basics approach that has kept Bond types coming to their establishments for years.
This place is reminiscent of a Chicago speakeasy during Prohibition. You might miss the entrance entirely if you don't keep your eyes open, and your wits about you as well, since you have to first go into a sort of basement and then down some stairs in darkness, which all may well help to get your heart pumping and your liver good and ready for your destination. Once inside, you're in a pretty big space, with red booths and dim lighting, giving a delicious aesthetic of the 1940s. The generous cocktail menu is longer than a Stephen King book, and it's dominated by concoctions made with Campari, but they also have a gift for those mixed with whiskey.
The stunning cocktail lounge of the Boca Grande Restaurant is one of the most chic night spots in Barcelona. Aside from the Parisian prices, I have only words of excitement for their Hendrick’s gin and tonic with cucumber slice: the best I've had in a long time. You’ll have to strangle your Visa card, sure, but with top-shelf labels, luxurious décor, and select and polished clientele, it’s worth it. It’s not uncommon to rub elbows with Catalan nobility, famous athletes or elite models. The surroundings are nothing to sniff at either: stuffed animals, designer furniture, quality fabrics, Victorian mirrors, old photographs ... Everything’s arranged at varying levels, and there’s also the miracle of a terrace.