Did you know the quinine originally used in tonic water made the gin and tonic an effective preventative against malaria? Sadly, it doesn’t still have the same effect, so getting drunk shouldn’t be used as a substitute for Deet if you’re planning a trip to the countryside. That said, the “gintonic” does still have many virtues. It’s maintained a strong position as one of Barcelona’s most fashionable drinks for several years now, leading to a huge choice of different flavours and combinations. However, not all gin and tonics are created equal – here, we talk you through some of the best.
XIX Bar (c/Rocafort 19, Poble Sec/Sant Antoni)
This special gin and tonic bar is a dedicated temple to this beverage. As such, it’s one of – if not the – best places in Barcelona to quench your thirst for a great G&T. As well as having an exhaustive (and creative) menu, the bar staff are true experts, and it’s a pleasure to watch them prepare your drink. With a vaguely flapper-ish feel, it’s also a stylish venue to bring a friend or a date to, although it’s also quite small, so no suitable for large parties. Prices are standard – around 10€ and up depending on what goes in your drink.
Old Fashioned (c/Santa Teresa 1, Gràcia)
Selling itself as a “Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar”, this establishment offers all kinds of gin and tonic you could imagine as well as seemingly everything else, too. On top of that, there is definite novelty value in the fact that the expert bartenders are always to be seen (at least, by us) in formal dress and braces. It’s rating by Buzzfeed as one of the top bars in the world you should drink in before you die explains its somewhat elevated prices and the fact that it’s nearly impossible to find anywhere to sit on a Saturday night.
Balius Bar (c/Pujades 196, Poblenou)
Owned by Rosa Solà, who for a while was the President of the Associació Slow Food, Balius is built in a converted drugstore. Instead of hair conditioner and detergent, you can now find gin & tonics, cocktails and a small selection of tapas. We ordered a G&T with red fruits (8€), a bellini (5€), a delicious sour vermouth cocktail (around 8€, but by this time I’d been drinking too much to remember properly) and some olives to go with them. There’s table service, and -from the colourful tiling to authentic original cabinets- it’s a place full of class, but manages to draw in friendly and completely unpretentious waiters and clientele.
Dry Martini (c/Aribau 162, Eixample Esquerra)
A friend once told me about an experience in Dry Martini. “It was an amazing venue”, she said, “great drinks and a really impressive place, actually rated one of the best bars in the world, you know?”. So what happened? “I accidentally ended up getting a round in for everyone, and was too broke to stay out for a single drink more”.
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