For a while now, bar-loving Madrileños have somewhat skeptically eyed Barcelona’s booming, uber-hip bar scene. This is because Spain’s capital has always boasted an exquisite, if small, scene of its own: what’s missing were the type of relaxed watering holes, complete with complex mixology directed by self-possessed bartender-cum-magicians, that are so trendy today.
Now that’s no longer an issue. Madrid’s most popular boîtes, like Museo Chicote, Dependance, Dry Martini Bar and Bar Cock – which transforms into a hotspot for contemporary art glitterati during the ARCOmadrid art fair each February – have a bit of competition from some avant-garde newcomers.
An impressive entrée to the “new” Madrilene bar scene is a visit to the exclusive Radio Rooftop Bar at the ME Hotel on Plaza Santa Ana. The evening vista over the city is just as striking as the fine American whisky selection (such as Booker’s) paired with a Villa Zamorano from Honduras. Thus fortified, continue along on your vuelta (Spanish for “tour”). Angelita Bar is located in the basement of a Spanish restaurant. Recommended are creations like the Pinche Boulevardier (mezcal, rye whiskey) and the Del Bronx a Sunlucar (gin, vermouth, sherry).
From the Angelita you can comfortably walk to Baton Rouge, where you’ll find the exuberant Diego Gonzalez at work. A longtime bar professional with years of international experience, Diego took a leap into the unknown by opening his own place – which can be a real gamble in Madrid, as he explained when he spoke with Cigar Journal. He and his laconic but witty barkeep, Alberto, have managed to achieve success with an innovative concept and lots of elbow grease. They served us an ad hoc cocktail creation with Cabeza tequila, mezcal, green Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, lime juice and agave syrup that reflected this up-and-coming cocktailbar’sheatanddazzle.
Our tour now takes us from the southern United States to a bar with an unusual name: Salmon Guru. It’s a friendly spot with quirky ambience and an opulent bar. Congenial proprietor Ricardo Garcia – who runs the place alongside bar director Diego Cabrera – might personally seat you and explain his concept. The Negroni is bolstered by sherry and house Vermouth, served in a chilled hip flask by the charming and talented bartender Antia. Antia, who studies architecture by day, is well-equipped to guide you to further cocktail temptations, such as a very tasty, intense and complex cocktail made with VSOP cognac, Palo Cortado sherry, Ancho Reyes, a hit of coffee and some lemon zest.
Calle de Victoria 8
The Dry Martini
Hotel Meliá, Madrid
Radio – Rooftop Bar
ME Hotel Madrid