Madrid, Spain’s vibrant capital, is a city that thrums with energy long after the sun sets. The allure of Madrid’s nightlife is not only in the pulsating rhythms that emanate from its numerous clubs and dance floors but also in its eclectic array of bars and taverns. Here’s an in-depth exploration of the top 12 bars in Madrid.
1. El Imperfecto
Tucked away in Plaza de la Paja, El Imperfecto’s name is a playful contradiction to its setting. The bar is charmingly decked with mismatched furnishings that somehow work harmoniously together. Here, conversations flow as easily as their house-special sangrias, an ideal fusion of wine, chopped fruit, and a hint of spirits. For those unfamiliar with the city’s vibrant scene, this spot acts as a perfect introduction.
2. Del Diego Cocktail Bar
Fernando del Diego, the genius behind this establishment, envisioned a cocktail bar that oozed sophistication without being intimidating. The bar staff, dressed in crisp white shirts, create magic with shakers and spirits. For first-timers, their Mojito stands out – a perfect blend of minty freshness and rum-infused kick.
3. La Venencia
Stepping into La Venencia is akin to taking a journey back in time. The worn-out walls have silently witnessed history, and the golden hue of sherry bottles glint enticingly from wooden shelves. Every glass served is a testament to Spain’s rich sherry-producing tradition. The Manzanilla, with its crisp, almond notes, is a must-try.
4. Salmon Guru
From the psychedelic neon signs to the plush velvet seating, every inch of Salmon Guru screams avant-garde. It’s not just the décor; the cocktail menu here is a fusion of tradition and innovation. The ‘Basil Smash’—a zesty concoction of gin, fresh basil, and lemon—epitomizes their inventive spirit.
5. Taberna Los Huevos de Lucio
Beyond the quirky name (which translates to “Lucio’s Eggs”), this bar is a treasure trove of authentic Spanish flavors. Paired with their house red wine, the huevos rotos (broken eggs over fried potatoes) is a gastronomic revelation.
6. Bodega de la Ardosa
A true representation of Madrid’s history, Bodega de la Ardosa welcomes patrons with a warm embrace. This is the place to savor Spain’s iconic Vermouth on tap, garnished with a slice of orange and an olive.
7. Macera TallerBar
The brainchild of Narciso Bermejo, Macera TallerBar is the embodiment of artisanal excellence. The bar’s specialty lies in homemade distilled spirits infused with everything from ripe strawberries to aromatic cinnamon. Their apple-infused gin, with its subtle fruity undertones, is particularly noteworthy.
8. Matador Rooftop Bar
Elevation adds a touch of charm to drinks, and Matador capitalizes on this philosophy. As the city’s lights shimmer beneath, patrons are treated to an extensive wine list and cocktails. The ‘Matador Special’—a heady mix of rum, passion fruit, and lime—is a crowd favorite.
Inspired by the carefree vibes of Miami in the 1970s, Corazón is a riot of colors and flavors. Their Pina Colada, served in a pineapple-shaped mug, transports one straight to sun-kissed beaches.
10. La Coquette
Madrid’s love affair with the blues finds its purest expression in La Coquette. As soulful tunes reverberate, the bar serves an assortment of drinks. The whiskey sour here, smooth with a tangy kick, resonates perfectly with the bar’s ambiance.
11. El Club del Gourmet at El Corte Inglés
Wine connoisseurs are in for a treat. Overlooking the bustling streets, this bar boasts a collection of wines that span continents. The Spanish Tempranillo, with its deep ruby hue and berry-infused aroma, is a must-savor.
A haven for indie lovers, Tupperware merges art, music, and mixology. The ‘Madrid Mule’—a refreshing blend of vodka, ginger beer, and lime—encapsulates the bar’s eclectic spirit.
Madrid’s Drink Culture
Central to understanding Madrid’s bars is appreciating the city’s drink culture. The Madrileños, with their zest for life, view drinks as more than just beverages. Each glass, whether it’s the effervescent cava or the robust rioja, tells a story. It’s a narrative of centuries-old vineyards, of sun-soaked terrains, of celebrations, and of quiet introspection.
Madrid’s Cocktail Renaissance
Over the past decade, Madrid has experienced a cocktail renaissance. While Spain is historically associated with wine, notably Rioja, Cava, and Sherry, the capital city has birthed a newfound passion for mixology. This cocktail revolution hasn’t replaced the wine bars or taverns; instead, it’s added another layer to Madrid’s intricate drinking culture.
In part, the renaissance can be credited to global trends reaching Spanish shores. As cities like New York, London, and Tokyo saw a resurgence of cocktail bars, Madrid wasn’t far behind. Local bartenders, inspired by international methods and ingredients, began experimenting. Soon, establishments like Salmon Guru and Del Diego Cocktail Bar started gaining recognition not just locally, but on global platforms.
Cocktails with a Spanish Twist
What sets Madrid apart in its cocktail journey is its unwavering commitment to its roots. The cocktails you find in Madrid aren’t mere replicas of what you’d sip in Manhattan or Soho. They come with a Spanish twist.
Take, for instance, the classic gin and tonic, a drink Spain has wholeheartedly embraced and made its own. In Madrid, a gin and tonic isn’t just a cocktail; it’s an art form. The gin is carefully selected, often infused with Spanish botanicals like rosemary or citrus from Valencia. The tonic isn’t just poured in, but chosen based on its flavor profile and how it complements the gin. And then, there’s the garnish, an array of choices from peppercorns to basil to cinnamon sticks.
Historical Impact on Madrid’s Bars
The history of Madrid, from its Moorish past to its status as a global city, has deeply influenced its bar culture. Bars like La Venencia remain untouched by time, standing as testimonies to eras gone by. The sherry served here isn’t just a drink but a nod to the age-old traditions of Andalusia.
In contrast, places like Macera TallerBar showcase modern Spain. They represent a country that’s looking ahead, embracing global trends, but also proudly showcasing its produce and flavors.
Local Ingredients Shine
Another significant aspect of Madrid’s bar scene is the emphasis on local ingredients. Spain is a country blessed with diverse terrains. From the olive groves of Andalusia to the citrus orchards of Valencia, the country’s produce is its treasure.
Bars in Madrid are harnessing these local gems, crafting drinks that are not just delicious but also tell a story. It’s not rare to find vermouths infused with Spanish herbs, cocktails adorned with local fruits, or spirits distilled from regional produce.
While this guide has delved into 12 standout bars in Madrid, the city’s drink culture is not just limited to these establishments. Every corner of Madrid, from its grand boulevards to its winding alleyways, offers a taste of its spirit. Each glass poured in this city, whether it’s a vintage wine or a modern cocktail, encapsulates Madrid’s essence — a blend of the past and the present, the local and the global.
As you explore Madrid, let its bars guide you. Let each drink you sip be an introduction to its culture, its history, and its people. Whether you’re clinking glasses in a century-old tavern or a chic rooftop lounge, remember, in Madrid, you’re not just drinking; you’re partaking in a story that’s been centuries in the making. ¡Salud!
You might also be interested in: