The best cocktail bars in Barcelona

The best cocktail bars in Barcelona

Jessica Benavides Canepa

In Barcelona, classic cocktails have long replaced wine and beer as the drink of choice for many a night-time revelry. But for those in the know, the latest wave of cocktail venues serving master-mix craft swigs in retro-fab settings is all that and a side of olives. From a former neighbourhood store to a centuries old storage space to a hush-hush hideaway, these cocktail bars in Barcelona are sure to tickle your fancy.

Libertine

Overseen by the well-travelled Argentine chef, Estanis Carenzo, this high-ceilinged, one-time carriage warehouse performs triple duty as hotel Casa Bonay’s breakfast nook (run by Barcelona fave Satan’s Coffee), lounge bar and restaurant. After dark, when denizens pop in for cocktails, chillaxing sounds and conversation, Libertine provides a mood-lit space of fetching green walls, cushy patterned pillows on sea foam sofas, design lighting and a drink menu highlighting select whiskies, sherries and, por supuesto, 20 varieties of cocktails. For a shot of festive flavour, try the French Bulldog cocktail, prepared with Armagnac, calvados, honey, cava and grapes or Baby Boom made with vodka and a curious blend of unusual combos such as roasted bananas and cardamom.

Dry Martini | Photo: Bea Schulze

Dry Martini | Photo: Bea Schulze

Dry Martini

Arguably one of the swankiest cocktail bars in Barcelona, walking into Dry Martini is like stepping into a Bond flick. The barmen, dapper in white coat and tie, mix drinks behind a varnished wood bar featuring a vintage register, a mirrored wall of spirits and brass detailing. Tony teal leather furnishings and barrel-back shelves complete the nostalgic look. Naturally, the drink of choice here is the martini; shaken, stirred, garnished or not, this classy joint will prepare it perfectly every time. Adventure seekers might opt for a Dry Mojito, a selection of fruit and spice flavoured mojito-based cocktails or continue their mission at Speakeasy, the venue’s “secret agent” restaurant downstairs, accessible only, you-guessed-it, by password.

Balius Bar

Once serving as a neighbourhood drugstore for present-day trendsetter Poble Nou, Balius Bar has kept endearing elements of its former incarnation; a window displays area, a tall, shellacked wall cabinet and the business´ name — proudly displayed in retro font above the entrance. Inside, the marble-top, panelled bar, leather stools, colourful mosaic floor tiles reminding patrons of the area’s strong Catalan heritage, and low hanging lighting emit a vintage, jazz-age vibe or a Mad Men tableau, depending on who you ask, and make Balius Bar one of the most stylish cocktail bars in Barcelona. For a quick trip into the past, try a Bambino; a vermouth-based cocktail infused with aromatic flavours or an organic cava concoction fuelled with fruity accents of the season.

Paradiso | Photo: Bea Schulze

Paradiso | Photo: Bea Schulze

Old Fashioned

One of the cosiest cocktail bars in Barcelona, located at the intersection between the bohemian heart of Gracia, and the district’s posh shopping avenue, (two contrasting parts of the same hood), Old Fashioned exudes a nostalgic aura harkening back to a racier time when barmen wore suspenders, meticulously prepared (forbidden?) drinks were the norm, and gin joints were all the rage. The small space is big on vintage charm; rich leather booths, monochrome detailing, framed photo prints and cool beats inspire leisure lingering. Old Fashioned Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar (try saying that ten times fast) is a bar for true cocktail aficionados who prefer their swigs with top-notch spirits, quality extras and swag. For a smooth finish, try the Alcatraz Old Fashioned, made with award-winning Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Paradiso

In the forever-trending Born district, it’s not unusual for an exceptional smoked artisan sandwich to attract attention. But when people line up in front of Rooftop Smoke House’s Pastrami Bar every Friday and Saturday night, an eyebrow or two may rise. But not for long; beyond the refrigerator door is Paradiso, the snazzy clandestine bar serving cocktails impeccably prepared by master mixologists. The bar itself is striking with a base to ceiling panelling and rounded back-lit booze shelves, but the magic is really all about the excellent pours. In what is one of the best cocktail bars in Barcelona, sample an “experience” with a twist via the Great Gatsby; a smoked, vanilla and chocolate infusion of Macallan Amber, Ramazzotti Amaro, truffle honey, lavender bitters and served with…well, some things should remain secret.

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