Winter is synonymous with sofas, blankets and fireplaces. Luckily, there are bars that offer (almost) all these features, meaning you don't have to turn into a complete hibernating hermit when the cold weather arrives. Below you'll find the bars where we're going to be spending chilly days. Inviting places that serve hot tea, coffee and chocolate, and cosy corners with sofas and candles that will make you feel right at home. Or even better!
This is a new Costa Brava space for seeing and experiencing the sea. Ultramar is a bar in L'Escala created and run by Gerard Argemí (alma mater of the iconic Mas Sorrer restaurant in Gualta), and it's a place that's basically got everything: live music performances (mainly jazz and African-American music), DJ sessions, quality food (signature tapas, classic apetisers and creative cooking using local products) and, above all, excellent drinks, including cocktails and smoothies. And we shouldn't forget the chill-out area and panoramic terrace, which is one of the best in town.
With more than 20 years experience of mixing drinks, Mariona Vilanova has become a true expert in the art of the cocktail. Her passion comes from her family, and in 2013 she created a temple to that passion: Nykteri's Cocktail Bar. In an intimate space, enjoy classic and signature cocktails, gin and tonics (with more than 50 gin types on offer), vermouth and glasses of wine accompanied by small bites to eat. On the menu you'll find house creations such as the Temps de Flor (the name of a floral-based festival that takes place each May in Girona), and a line of cocktails that use Terrània 'ratafia' (ratafia is a local liquor traditionally made with a variety of herbs).
In the middle of the road that crosses Banyoles - and only five minutes from the town's famous lake - you'll find a charming spot: the Pati de Ca La Flora. This former dairy, which dates from 1914, has been transformed into a bar-café and bed and breakfast, where great attention is paid to the details. The lush plants that stand ouside, the traditional decor with wooden furniture and the beams in the ceiling all make this place a haven for anyone looking to have breakfast, enjoy a beer or have a snack. From time to time, they organise special activities, such as wine, beer and gin-and-tonic tastings, discussions and presentations. It's a must-visit!
Despite the shelves full of 'National Geographic' magazines, at Ca La Pilar Dumingu they can't hide their true nature – the soda siphons of Casa Negra and the ceramic basins in the bathrooms clearly reveal them. The authenticity of this bar-café in Plaça Major in La Bisbal is undeniable. It's located in a historical grocery shop with mosaic floors and high ceilings, and has the charm of a place that acknowledges the past as a way of living contentedly in the present and future. The long tables create a family atmosphere for everyone who heads there for a vermouth, a beer (they have a selection of craft beers) or one of the herbal infusions stored in apothecary pots.
You love mosaic floors, wooden furniture marked by history, bar counters made of marble and modernista lamps. At 1900, they do too. It's a welcoming, discreet café that passes by almost unseen on those days when there's a lot of shoppers on C/Santa Clara. But if you head inside, you'll be captivated by the aesthetics, the warmth and the peace of its cobbled walls as well, obviously, by the range of coffees and teas (take a look at its specialities), hot chocolates, fresh juices, milkshakes and gofres, to name just a small part of what they serve. The WiFi is free, so you can work on your laptop or get out your mobile, and share this latest find with your followers.
According to the dictionary, a 'cau' is a hole that some creatures dig in the ground to hide, a shelter. For Girona locals, the Cau (of the wolf, or 'llop') is an iconic, magical spot in the Old Town where they can take refuge for a great evening and delicious food. Think bread and tomato with the special house cured meats ('embotits'), toasted bread with grilled vegetables ('escalivada') or a slice of potato omelette, all enjoyed late at night in the warmth of the fire while setting the world to rights with friends. People go back time and again to this welcoming place where they feel right at home.
Don't wait for people to tell you about this place: you need to experience the charms of La Devesa de Tor for yourself. Visit the small Empordà village of Tor and immerse yourself in this restored 16th-century 'masia' (Catalan country house). The atmosphere will take you to an exotic and sensual place from where you won't want to return. Go into any of the rooms, each with their own suggestive name (the Cove, the Intimate, the Clandestine, the Sky...), and if you're in good company, prepare for a romantic evening with chill-out music and candlelight. Enjoy the variety of cocktails on offer such as Elixir of the Caribbean, Exotic Bubbles, the Cupid and the Marilyn, as well as the sophisticated gin and tonics, beers and alcohol-free options.
Are you a lover of good food and wine? Are you one of those people who likes to sit at the bar but won't settle for just any old wine, and instead prefers to sample only quality products? Then this is the place for you in Figueres, the place for elegant evenings out. The owner Pau serves different protected origin (DO) varieties from around Spain, available by the glass, as well as cava, beer and vermouth, and a great selection of tapas and larger dishes. Their take on 'patates braves' (deep-fried potato chunks served with a spicy sauce) sees the potatoes cooked in the oven to make them really crunchy. Plus well-cooked fresh anchovies and some more elaborate dishes such as a stew of meatballs with tomato and mushroom risotto.
Comfort, elegance, style... these are just some of the labels that define the Lounge Bar in the Hotel Aiguaclara in Begur, located in a colonial palace from 1866. In the warm summer Costa Brava nights enjoy mojitos, gin and tonics, mint tea and tapas that everyone will like. When the weather cools down, head inside for a drink and let the music and vintage decoration carry you away - pallet sofas, marble tables, soda siphons, candles and lamps that soften the ambience. All in all, it's an excellent antidote to your routine, problems and stress.
Bebop, free jazz, Dixieland, ragtime... Follow the rhythm and choose whatever genres you like, because at some point or other, you're bound to hear them at the Sunset Jazz Club, a landmark venue in Girona for all jazz lovers. Whether you like improvisation or prefer it when they stick to the sheet music, whether your thing is big band, trio or solos, this Barri Vell club has a great programme of concerts by both national and international musicians, as well as an excellent range of background tunes. To get you really in the mood for the music, take a look at their cocktail menu (featuring both classics and house creations) as well as their selection of Irish whiskies and Scottish whisky, gins and vodkas.