El Born is one of the most interesting areas of Barcelona. Originally an extension of the more famous Barrio Gotico next door, it is a maze of twisty atmospheric medieval streets and alleys reeking with atmosphere (like its cousin next door) but with less tourists and shops and more bars and restaurants. The perfect place for a short gin walk. We tried 4 bars on a Friday night, all within a few minutes walk of each other and all with a completely different vibe.
This bar is tucked away on a side street in El Born, very close to Jaume I metro station and just off the busy Via Laietana. DuxBCN is a modern twist on an old school cocktail bar and serves a good range of standard and hard to find gins at reasonable prices. It also has a range of interesting infused gins and (perhaps with a nod to the Roca brothers or Heston Blumenthal), even serves some gins infused with smoke at the table under glass jars. A comfortable, civilised, stylish bar with excellent and helpful bar staff, this one is well worth a try (and a great place to start your evening).
Most gins were in the 8-14 euro range.
The vibe was cozy, vintage modern, quirky, jazzy with nice details such as a working piano (for their regular jazz evenings), a beautiful collection of lead soldiers in an illuminated case, and a fireplace with framed paintings of cartoon dogs.
Drinks were strong, well presented and served in large “copa” style balon glasses with 4 big ice cubes and well garnished to enhance the botanicals of each gin
Service was good (and prompt), our bartender, Angel was charming and explained all the options, made the drinks and even served them at our table.
They also organise regular live jazz/swing music evenings, guest bartenders, themed events and have daily/weekly specials.
Just a few blocks down the road is Rubi, unassuming from the outside but this place picks up once you get inside with a long crowded bar, exposed brick walls draped with red velvet curtains and ambient lighting to give it a clubby feel. We got there at 10pm on a Friday night and it was already packed (but it was pouring with rain outside which might have had something to do with it)
Gins were between 7 and 9 euros, the place was loud and filled with a young crowd (early 30s) and mostly English speakers ex-pats and a few visiting tourists and some cozy couples
Vibe, buzzy, pre-club atmosphere, more girls than guys – more like a party bar that serves gin than a specialist gin bar.
They offered between 30 and 50 different gins ranging from exotic foreign gins to locally produced brands – they also have their own Rubi gin brand available for only 7 euros a glass.
The busy staff behind the bar did the best to keep up with the crowds demands
Other – loud and crowded, 70s R&B pumping out from the speakers at volume. A great place to go for a late night drink or to top up before hitting the clubs. They also serve a limited range of basic tapas to help to soak up the booze. Not really a gin bar (despite the vast range of gins, most people were drinking something else). Also, please note that at the time of our visit, they did not accept credit cards, so bring cash.
Stagger a few blocks down the road to find Paradiso, a cool and stylish bar with a modernist “speakeasy” vibe and a sophisticated but quirky style. The front of the bar is a small tiled pastrami shop with a few stools at the counter. But look to your left and you’ll see a closed door and if the doorman lets you in, you enter another world. A stunning curved wooden ceiling pays homage to modernism and the place is buzzing with an eclectic mix of customers in their 30s and 40s all obviously having a great time. The soundtrack is sexy laidback house music and the vibe is buzzy but chilled. Plus, you can get their delicious pastrami sandwiches (served on rye bread with mustard and sauerkraut or if you prefer you could try their delicious pulled pork bagel) brought to your table. The pastrami is amazing, hand-smoked by local artisans direct from the Barcelona-based Rooftop Smokehouse – absolutely delicious.
The vibe here is cool, buzzy, sexy, sophisticated.
While they had a decent selection of gins it was nothing exceptional. Also a vast range of quirky cocktails served in teapots, jam jars, glass pipes and other unusual vessels.
Our gins were served in beautiful, large, vintage tumblers made of old fashioned cut glass to add a little extra style to our evening
Service was amazing. We were seated within 5 minutes, everyone was charming, helpful and attentive and we were even brought glasses of water before they took our order. They discreetly manage the steadily increasing volume of a group of guys seated next to us and despite bringing our food at different times (they were busy) they apologised to us twice and were instantly forgiven when the food arrived!
This has quickly become one of my favorite bars in Barcelona and I’ll be going back soon. I loved everything about it from the decor to the service to the drinks – and my pastrami sandwich was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a bar for years.
A quirky, cool, old style drinking bar with a sexy twist, we really like this place. Converted from what looks like two shops, its walls are filled with vintage 60s wallpaper, interesting wall art (for sale) and a cozy atmosphere created by clever use of indirect light. The bar serves standard gins such as Sipsmith, Citadelle, Bombay Sapphire and BCN Raw Gin (a delicious Catalan gin made locally), but they only had one tonic water available when we were there. The crowd were mostly in their 30s and were a bit more casual and laid back than at the other bars – you got the sense that for many of them this was a regular hangout. Despite this, we were able to quickly get a table for 4 on the mezzanine upstairs, with a view of the hipster bartenders doing their thing downstairs.
The vibe was quirky hipster, casual and laid back “vintage” style (with a dash of irony). Groovy elevator music was playing in the background (but this got more appealing as we drank our gins). It was quite loud and not easy to have a conversation but everybody seemed to be having a good time. Water was brought to our table when we sat down and while the waitress was polite and charming, she wasn’t that knowledgeable about gin and she couldn’t remember the name of the tonic water they served.
Drinks were served in IKEA style tumblers and garnished appropriately with fruits and spices. Well organised and the perfect place to end our evening. We’ll definitely be going back
Service was good, friendly, efficient. This is not technically a “specialist”gin bar and that was reflected in the service and product knowledge of the servers.
This place could be dangerous. I could see myself popping in and staying for a while or extending my evening with a nightcap or two. Felt like a local place with an honest approach and its “shabby chic” vibe felt instantly comfortable.