2012 started with a wonderful trip to sunny Barcelona with my dear sister Sarah. Had I done the requisite homework investigation into places to go for food and drinks? Was the trip going to be a non-stop tour of the sights, flavours and libations that the good capital of Catalunya had to offer. The answers are ‘yes’, but the main priority were those aforementinoed sights, this being my sister’s first trip, and my first in over 10 years. Most of the research for evening places to go in the evenings was wasted, as we tended to just eat or stop into a bar wherever we found ourselves. We did, however, stick firmly to one recommendation. Dry Martini was lauded by Sharon at Bite Magazine, and her piece for the mag can be found here.
The taxi driver almost set us down at the right place, and we found the door on the corner. The streets were fairly quiet, and stepping in to the warm bar was like stepping back in time. The attached restaurant called ‘Speakeasy’ is appropriately named, as you have to sneak through a secret entrance at the back of the bar to find it. We had every intention of heading in for food after one or two drinks, but by the time we’d slurped our third, we had scoffed so many bar snacks that we didn’t really feel a full dinner would be justified!
Wood paneling, leather seating, vintage bottles of every type of booze under the sun, white-coated professionals pour the drinks. The place has a decidedly club-like atmosphere. The vintage-esque chaps behind the bar established that we were still in aperitivo mode and that for me , a dry martini would hit the spot nicely. The interior is indeed old school, but you can’t help but notice the giant digital monitor above the bar which keeps track on the number of the bar’s name-sake drinks that are poured. I found this rather incongruous with the olde worlde feel, but after such a great night, I can forgive the gimmick.
But the real question remained. How dry is a Dry Martini? Dry. Very dry. Bombay Sapphire is the pouring gin of choice, and the deft yet methodical artistry with which the drink was assembled was nothing short of pure theatre. Just watching it being created had those little ‘gleek’ things inside of my mouth going ga-ga. The finishing touches, an olive and a ‘magic’ sprinkle of lemon oils from an elevated twist of the peel, had put this up there with the best drink I’ve ever had. Before even tasting it.
A small sip. BANG. Another small sip. BANG. For the duration of that drink, my world was gin. Crisp! My maraschino-loving sister decided she’d take a Mahattan (I don’t know if there’s a Bronx or Staten Island cocktail, but there should be) her own particular favourite. It got a great review. Sitting at the bar, we were offered a few little samples of various other drinks as they were being made for other punters. After tasting one such drink, my next pick was a gin gimlet. I refuse to believe this is such a simple drink (gin and Rose’s lime cordial. That’s it?) but so tasty.
We chatted away to the bar staff, scoffed the salted almonds, and far far too many salted corn kernels. Damn, those crunchy little things are moreish.Frankly, our third drinks may have passed in to legend, as I can’t really remember too much more than the fact that mine was another gin martini, with blueberries. Erm. That’s about it. About 80euros later, we picked ourselves up and headed on our way. Happily, and quite decidedly squiffy.
Back to reality. Last week the Silver Fox and I went down to Bond No 9 for a Friday cocktail. I tried a dry martini. I wanted to love it. The service was great, the staff genuiunely keen to know if you enjoyed the drinks. It was better than good, but it missed the mark somewhere before you could call it great. Perhaps the missing magic lemon oils? The lame quality of the green olive? Or just the fact that I wasn’t sitting in Barcelona…
Dry Martini, Carrer d’Aribau 162-166 (it’s on the corner), 08036, Barcelona. www.drymartinibcn.com