Everyone loves lists. Whether you type them on your mobile phone or jot them in a notebook or scribble them on a napkin that eventually gets lost at the bottom of your bag...making lists is something we humans cannot resist. Being a particularly notorious list-maker, it was only a matter of time before the lists wormed their way onto this blog. Besides satisfying my need for order, lists are also a quick and fun way to share stuff about the city we love. Hopefully, these lists of great things to do, places to visit, curiosities, secrets, annoyances and more will inspire you to add your own choices and comments! Visitors can get a peek at what's great (and not so great) in Barcelona, and locals can share their vast experience and knowledge...who knows, we might all discover something new!
I've decided to kick start the list-making with something almost everyone will have an opinion on - bars in Barcelona. Here's a selection of my favourite bars, hand-picked and personally tested!
1. GINGER (Carrer Palma de Sant Just, 1 - Gothic Quarter. 93 310 5309)
Probably my favourite cocktail bar in the whole city. It has a vampy 1920's feel to it, with curvaceous white booths and low, slinky lighting and the right kind of jazz. Good wine list and excellent cocktails. In my humble opinion, the best Manhattan you'll find in Barcelona (let me know if you disagree. I'm up for trying any ambitious Manhattan eager for the crown).
2. TINTAROJA (Carrer Creu dels Molers, 17 - Poble Sec. 93 443 3243. www.tintaroja.net)
Tintaroja feels a bit like dancing tango with David Lynch in an old attic. Sofas upholstered in red velvet, forgotten knicknacks, a lit-up globe, surreal paintings, tango playing somewhere in the distance, a stage waiting for a cabaret that never comes. A decent wine list (including a selection of Argentinean wines), the expected beers and several Argentinean cocktails...but the atmosphere and décor are what really make Tintaroja one of the city's true originals (note for non-smokers: the bar has several non-smoking spaces that really are smoke-free!)
3. ANDU (Carrer Correus Vells, 3 - Gothic Quarter. 646 55 39 30)
Great winter spot. Old stone walls, rustic wooden tables and slightly worn armchairs make for a homely atmosphere. Great selection of wines (if you like dry but fruity white wines, try the Gran Cardial, a delicious Verdejo), good international snacks (guacamole, cheese platters, hummus) and good cocktails. It gets crowded on the weekends and abominably hot in the summer so it's best to drop in on a weeknight in winter.
4. ZIM (Carrer Dagueria, 20 - Gothic Quarter)
Staying on the topic of Gothic Quarter wine bars, a friend from New York, who spent two months in Barcelona, went absolutely nuts over this place. It's a tiny, tiny wine bar off Plaça Sant Just run by a guy called Francesc, and my friend swears it is the best place for a quiet wine date during the week (Francesc takes weekends off).
5. CASA ALMIRALL (Carrer Joaquin Costa, 33 - El Raval)
Stepping into this bar is a bit of time travel, taking you back to Barcelona circa 1910. It is one of the few historical art nouveau bars in town and really preserves its old-world charm in a way that always gives patrons something to talk about. Wine, beer and long drinks are decent. Apparently they make mojitos, but I've never tried one. The atmosphere makes up for shortcomings in the art of mixology.
6. CHATELET (Carrer Torrijos, 54 - Gracia. 93 284 9590)
Hugely popular, funky bar a block down from the Verdi Park cinema. Shabby chic living room with good music and kung fu movies playing on a TV in the corner, Chatelet is best for a post-movie drink since it gets insanely crowded on weekends. Drinks are good, so are their sandwiches.
7. ROUGE BAR (Carrer Poeta Cabanyes, 21 - Poble Sec. 93 442 4985. www.myspace.com/genterouge)
The name says it all...red lighting, red sofas, even red drinks if you so desire. A friend of mine who lives up the street from Rouge has made it her local, so much so, in fact, that the bartender named a drink after her. It's a place where neighbourhood spirit and underground chic lead a happy co-existence.
8. RESOLIS (Carrer Riera Baixa, 22 - El Raval. 93 441 2948)
Old world, down to earth, Barcelona charm: it doesn't get much more authentic than Resolis. Wine and tapas. Small and simple. A touch of modernisme. Every once in a while, it is essential to have a drink at a place like this and contemplate the rich history of the city we live in...and if you're visiting, a stop at one of the city's surviving classics is de rigueur. (Other great modernist bars where memories of Barcelona's golden age are still palpable: Bar Muy Buenas, Carrer Carme, 63; London Bar, Nou de la Rambla, 34 - both in the Raval.)
9. BAR RAMON on Blai (Carrer Blai, 28 - Poble Sec. 93 442 3080)
As soon as the weather gets warmer, I indulge in what I believe to be one of Catalonia's greatest gifts to the world: fer el vermut. It isn't just a glass of vermouth; it is a tradition of meeting with friends, having a few olives or tapas and sipping great, homemade vermouth (no comparison with supermarket Martini-brand vermouth). Bar Ramón on Blai is a perfect spot to gather on a spring or summer afternoon or evening, sit outside and share un bon vermut. (Right around the corner on Poeta Cabanyes is Quimet i Quimet, which might well have the best homemade vermouth in the city...but it's a tapas bar and therefore doesn't belong on this list...but it will probably show up on one of these posts in the future...)
10. LA CASETA DEL MIGDIA (Mirador del Migdia, Parc de Montjuïc. 617 956 572)
Speaking of spring and summer...this might be the ultimate warm weather spot. The drinks won't win this bar any prizes, but it's location is unbeatable for an afternoon in the sun, downtempo beats drifting on the breeze, a cold clara within reach of your deck chair, smell of BBQ in the air...La Caseta is at the top of Montjuïc, a 10 minute walk from the castle, surrounded by pine trees and overlooking the port. They also serve food on weekends. (June-September, 8pm-2:30am, Thursday to Saturday, noon-1am on Sundays; October-May, noon-7pm on Saturday and Sunday.)
We're also busily reviewing bars on Foursquare - check out our tips!
Alright, now it's our turn! Post your own list or jot down a couple of your favourites or comment on my selection!