Barcelona is one hell of a city! So much so that when we thought about how to talk about all the killer bars we visited while there, we realized it would take more than one post – so here is part one featuring the Gracia and Eixample neighbourhoods of Barcelona!
Let’s start by saying that in a city this old and big and popular you will never run out of stuff to do, things to see and bars to visit. We got to spend a whole 9 days in Barcelona (we know how fortunate we are) so we really got to explore this gorgeous area at our own pace. While most visitors to Barcelona stay closer to the old part of town (Born, Gothica, Raval) we chose to stay a little further North in a neighbourhood called Gracia. While Gracia isn’t exactly in the middle of everything that’s cool or popular with travellers, it did give us a nice sense of what staying in the city is like for residents. Everything in Barcelona is walkable but the places you will find in this post specifically, are walkable from the Gracia and Eixample neighbourhoods.
Plaça del Sol
Here at home (Toronto) there has been much public debate (though none of it seems to be taken seriously) about the idea of drinking in public. If any/all legislators could see how warm and positive Placa Del Sol is, there would be no debate. You show up to this square and grab a couple cans of beer from one of the bodegas that surround it and then pick a spot in the park. Even if you have never been to Barcelona before, you already feel right at home.
Bobby Gin (Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47, 08012)
As you might guess from the name, this bar focuses on the ubiquitous GinTonic. Their combinations of Gins, tonics and botanicals are all very well thought out and it takes some will power to not sit and study (cough, drink) each combination on their menu. They have a selection of other drinks too. The staff are very inviting and friendly and knowledgeable about everything they have behind the bar. This is a great first bar to stop at for the night.
Old Fashioned Bar Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar (Carrer de Santa Teresa, 1, 08012)
This dark bar is cozy and lively. Framed photos on the walls and plush vintage furniture make you feel right at home as soon as you walk in. The cocktails at this bar are surprising though. Despite the name of the bar, the drinks list is heavily populated by Tiki inspired creations, and that’s fine by us. Getting a riff on a Mai Tai or a Fog Cutter is no problem here and it will be served to you in a shrunken head-, shark- or pineapple-shaped mug but not until after it is prepared in showy-but-not-too-showy manner by their excellent and proficient bar team.
The Alchemix (Carrer de València, 212, 08011)
Hold on to your butts! This new restaurant in the Eixample neighbourhood is at the forefront of what we do in this industry. Both the chef and head bartender, come from Michelin calibre restaurants and have spent more than 15 years each working to perfect what they do. The drinks at Alchemix are well thought out and based on the alchemy of flavour. They have a whole “Tree of Life” diagram in their menu to help you along. If that all sounds a touch too heady for you, you can always just choose a cocktail based on the glassware (which is totally fine as detailed in this post). If you have any questions at all, Ignacio Ussía Montes is there to help. There is also a secret drink, hidden in the text of the menu. [insert blown mind emoji]
These next three bars all fall into the same family of bars and should all be visited in the same 6 hour span of time. They share a vibe but not an attitude, if you get what I’m saying.
Tandem Cocktail Bar (Carrer d’Aribau, 86, 08036)
This bar is about as wide as a pick up truck and there is no menu. You order whatever you feel like and the bartender (who must have a mental rolodex of EVERY drink in their brain) will make it or a reasonable approximation. Maybe the nicest touch here is that they have custom glassware. The bar has made sure that the etchings on your Manhattan, your “GinTonic” and even the mixing glass that your Hanky Panky is stirred in all match.
Ideal Cocktail Bar (Carrer d’Aribau, 89, 08036)
Not far from Tandem, you will find another bar that looks like it was made to be the background of a movie. Ideal Cocktail Bar has been in business for longer than you’ve been alive (probably) and their last renovation was more than 60 years ago. The respect that this room demands is obvious the second you walk in. The cocktail list is made up of classics and their whisky selection is massive. The bartenders wear white jackets and move gracefully but with purpose. And if you’d like, there is someone there to shine your shoes for you.
Dry Martini (Carrer d’Aribau, 162, 166, 08036)
If you look up “Bars in Barcelona” this one will show up close to the top of the list, and with good reason. This bar treads the line between “for the aficionados” and “I just need a drink” better than almost any bar we’ve been to. While the Dry Martini is clearly the star of the show (supposedly the only drink they served for the first few years they were open, the scoreboard illustrating how many have been served, the station to make the Dry Martini is elevated above the rest of the bar, etc…) one feels good ordering whatever they wish in this bar. The bar and furnishings look like they were installed in 1978 and have been kept pristine ever since. We were here in the middle of the day and really got to take in everything about the room. Like we said, there is a reason this shows up close to the top of every list about Barcelona.
Stay tuned for Part Two of our Barcelona Bar Hop where we hit up the Born, Raval and Gothic neighbourhoods!
Note: As with all Bar Hops, we are not encouraging getting inebriated. This is a list of great cocktail bars that we suggest visiting while in Barcelona. We want you to have fun and play safe. Check out How to Do a Good Bar Hop for some hot tips.