the Hugo

Gin and summertime: introducing The Hugo

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Gin and summertime are a perfect match. They go together as naturally as strawberries and cream.  In fact, there’s  nothing better on a hot summer’s day than a deliciously long, sparkling gin and tonic made in a Spanish copa glass. Especially if it’s filled with extra large ice cubes to keep you refreshed until the last sip.  But gin lends itself to so much more than just gin and tonics.  And maybe there is another way…

In the summertime, long cocktails become more popular than at other times of year and you can mix them up to match your mood. Whether you’re sunning yourself by a pool in the Mediterranean or sipping them gently by the BBQ in your back garden, they can make a lovely, easy to drink alternative to a cold beer and a more sophisticated way of drinking your gin than in a standard gin and tonic.

Summertime (and the ginning is easy…)

We know that as we ease into the summer social season, there will be lots of people reaching for that bottle of Pimms they’ve had since last summer.  They’ll be thinking about cutting up all that fruit, getting the proportions right and whether or not they have a jug or a punch bowl in the kitchen that’s big enough to mix up a summer batch.

But there is another way.  There are loads of refreshing, easy to make summer coolers that we think you might enjoy as the heat gets turned up and the summer starts to deliver on its early promise.  From standard summer punches to Singapore Slings and from Tom Collins‘ to Pomegranate coolers and Gin Fizzes, there’s something for everybody. 

But we thought we’d share a recipe for a delicious, refreshing summer drink called a Hugo
I like to think it’s in honour of one of my favourite teenagers, but he assures me that it’s nothing to do with him.

So, what is a Hugo and how do I make one?

This drink is so easy to make, it’s almost embarrassing.  It’s the perfect cocktail for summer sipping in the back garden, or for gathering around the pool for a cool down.  And it only has three key ingredients: gin, cava and elderflower cordial. It seems so simple and such easy flavours to combine. So, where did this refreshing drink originate? Well, according to legend it first appeared in Austria in the region of South Tyrol.  According to Mixology magazine, the first sighting of a Hugo was in 2005, when a barman called Roland Gruber was looking for an alternative to a Spritz Venetiano (prosecco, Aperol and soda water).  

In Roland’s version, he mixed gin, prosecco, lemon balm syrup and sparkling water and stirred it over ice.  As time went by, it became clear that elderflower syrup was easier to get than the lemon balm syrup (and tasted just as good).  Elderflower joined the party permanently and is now a standard ingredient of the Hugo. And in these days of flavoured gins, you can subtly switch up your flavour by choosing a gin. While a classic London Dry works really well with this mix, you could experiment with a few other trusted flavours. Dial up the citrus with a limey blast of Tanqueray Rangpur or give it a lemony lift with a shot of Malfy Limone. Add a little cucumber freshness with a classic Hendricks. Or make the most of that elderflower taste with a JJ Whitley elderflower gin.

Nobody quite knows why this cocktails is called a Hugo and we don’t really care.  It is sweet, refreshing, delicate, easy to make and easy to drink. It’s absolutely perfect for summer – and that’s good enough for us!

The Hugo recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 measure of gin (to taste)
  • One Collins glass (half filled with ice)
  • A good splash of elderflower cordial
  • A handful of mint leaves
  • Lime wedge
  • Cava
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Pour a generous measure of gin into a glass half-filled with ice
  2. Add a good splash of elderflower cordial
  3. Place several mint leaves into the drink
  4. Squeeze the juice of a lime into the drink and drop the wedge in
  5. Top up with cava
  6. Add a splash of soda water
  7. Serve chilled…

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Laverstoke

The Laverstoke cocktail

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

On a recent tour of the beautiful Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire (highly recommended by the way!), I stumbled across the Laverstoke cocktail as one of my post-tour choices.

It’s been my “go to” Summer drink ever since, because it combines some of my favourite ingredients including elderflower, lime, ginger and gin. Mixed together it is the lightest and most refreshing of summer cocktails.

Perfect for sipping on a summer’s day overlooking the clear waters of the trout stream that flows swiftly under the amazing converted mill deep in the Hampshire countryside – now home to the Bombay Sapphire distillery (and one of the best and prettiest gin tours in the UK).

Here’s how to make a Laverstoke cocktail (courtesy of Bombay Sapphire’s head bartender, Sam Carter.

  • Squeeze 2 freshly cut lime wedges into a large copa (balloon) glass then drop in
  • Pour in 10 ml of Elderflower cordial (paid link)
  • Add 15 ml of Martini Rosso vermout (paid link)
  • Pour in 50 ml of gin, preferably Bombay Sapphire! (paid link)
  • Fill glass completely with large ice cubes and stir well to chill
  • Pour ginger ale (or ginger beer) down a twisted bar spoon over the ice and gently stir cocktail at same time
  • Garnish with a snapped ginger slice and an awoken mint leaf
  • Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy…

For more of Sam’s delicious gin cocktail recipes click here

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Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Anyone for Pimm’s?

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

There’s nothing more delicious on an English summer day than a long, refreshing jug of Pimm’s, served with lemonade, ice, mint, cucumber, sliced oranges and lemons and poured over a pile of ice cubes.

It is the drink of Wimbledon and Ascot, Henley Regatta and the Chelsea Flower Show – but it’s at its best in your back garden on a (rare) English summer’s day. So why is it so hard to find in the land of Sangria and Tinto de Verano?  Well maybe that’s just it – there are so many established alternatives in Spain, so why should they bother with an English version of what they already do well?

I’ll tell you why – because its got gin in it and it’s absolutely delicious.

So what is it and how did it come about?

The original Pimms was invented in 1840 by James Pimm of London town. He was a restaurant owner with several establishments across the city and experimented by blending gin with liqueurs, spices and other special ingredients, which he then served in pint tankards. It proved so popular with his customers, that he saw an opportunity and he took it. He started bottling his concoction and his customers loved it. That began a great British love affair with this delicious, easy to drink gin-based spirit.

Shortly after the bottling started, so di the journey of Pimms itself. One of its first ever shipments was to the Galle Face hotel (I was there earlier this year and I can vouch for the fact that there can be no finer place in the world to sip it than on the verandah of this classic colonial, eating a fine curry and gazing out at the Indian Ocean). In 1898, a shipment of Pimms was sent up the Nile by boat to Sudan. Its mission: to help to quench the thirst of the forces who were digging in to defend Khartoum. I can only imagine General Gordon having a last glass of Pimms before his last stand at the Battle of Omdurman guaranteed his place in the history books forever.

Since then, Pimms has gone from strength to strength and a number of different Pimms Cups are now available including Pimms No. 2 (based on scotch); Pimms No. 3 (based on rum); Pimms No. 4 (based on rye whiskey); and Pimms No. 5 (based on vodka). But the Daddy of them all is still Pimms No.1 and it stll tastes of Summer.

Hard to find in Barcelona, but availabe at Colmado Quilez

Classic Pimm’s No. 1 Cup recipe

  1. Mix 1 part Pimm’s No. 1 with three parts sparkling lemonade
  2. Add strawberries, cucumber, mint and orange to a large jug
  3. Pour the concoction over ice into a long glass (or a tankard)
  4. Garnish to taste.

Enjoy!

Thank you, Mr. Pimm.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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gin ice cream

Ice cream made with gin: a very refreshing recipe for the summer!

The dog days of Summer are here and we’re sure that the gins are already out and the ice cubes are stacking up in the freezer. But sometimes, just drinking gin isn’t enough. What if you could eat it?
Never fear, your dreams have just come true.
So, as the temperature climbs, why not cool down with some delicious gin ice cream.
Here’s one of our favourite recipes for you to try out at home (in 5 easy steps).
Give it a whirl and let us know what you think. You could even stick a couple of flakes in the top and pretend it’s just a 99 from Mr. Whippy (although you may not fool your friends, who will all want to try this cool G&T treat!)

5 steps to a perfect gin and tonic ice cream

  1. Pour one cup of sugar directly into a mixing bowl, then add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 125ml of tonic water and 3 tablespoons of gin
  2. Stir all ingredients together until they start to dissolve
  3. Pour in 600ml of cream
  4. Whip it good! Beat the cream with a whisk until it thickens up like a decent milkshake (think McDonald’s). Try not to over do the whipping!
  5. Transfer the contents into a freezer-proof container and allow to freeze.

It really is as easy as that – so whip some up for your friends and relatives and let us know what you think of the ultimate summer cooler!

And don’t forget to share all your photos on our fabulous instagram pages!

Recommendation: Any gin will do for this recipe, but we recommend Bertha’s Revenge from Ireland (see Gin of the Month). This gin is rich and creamy (just as well since it’s made fermented from real Irish milk). The perfect base for a gin ice cream. 

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Thank you Bertha!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Barcelona cocktail bars

Barcelona cocktail bars: Dry Martini, Solange and Tandem

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin bar reviews | 0

Looking for Barcelona cocktail bars? Then head to the city’s cocktail corner, on the corner of Aribau and Corcega, and enjoy the best Barcelona has to offer without moving a block. For starters, head to the king of Barcelona cocktail bars, the Dry Martini. There you could be forgiven for think you’ve just entered a time machine and ended up in the sophisticated 1930s (with the occasional time warp nod to the 1970s).  

This is without doubt the high end of Barcelona’s cocktail scene. It comes complete with white jacketed waiters, sophisticated cocktail bars and even a hidden Speakeasy.

Within a few hundred feet, you will find easy access to some of the coolest places in town for a quiet drink, a romantic liaison or just a casual encounter over your favourite gin-based beverage.

So, purely in the interests of science, we thought we’d try them out and let you know what we think.


Dry Martini, the king of Barcelona cocktail bars

A classic among Barcelona cocktail bars, often appearing in the top 10 lists of best bars in the world, Dry Martini is like stepping back in time. The bar is a decent size with panelled walls, leather chairs and banquettes. It has a long bar, retro and classic artwork and a jazzy, 1930s vibe. As the name suggests, it has become famous because of its excellent Dry Martinis (gin is best, obviously). And it even has a digital counter clocking up in real time every Dry Martini served.

Waiters are in white jackets, food is of the elegant tapas variety and prices match the salubrious atmosphere. In addition to classic martinis, they have a good selection of gins served up in classic tumblers. Schweppes Premium tonic water (paid link) is standard.

The clientele is generally well heeled. But on the night of our visit, there was a mixture of affluent locals, curious tourists and cocktail fanatics sitting at the bar.

This place gets busy, especially later, so get there early for a seat. Service can be a bit patchy. But if you’re patient, you’ll get a well-made gin and tonic, a classic evening and a great cocktail. And if you’re in the mood and can get a table, try out the Speakeasy restaurant. It’s hidden behind a door in the panelled wall. Another connection to the 1930s.

Tanqueray 10

We started off the evening with a round of Tanqueray 10s (paid link). The drinks came with tonic, garnished modestly with a thinly sliced lemon wheel and poured down a “gin spoon” over large lumps of cocktail ice.

This seemed like a good choice to start off with at Dry Martini, since it was specifically blended to go into one. But we thought we’d see what it works like in a normal G&T. And we all thought they were excellent and set a good benchmark.

The waiter brought all the G&Ts to the table and presented them on a small tray, free poured direct to the glass. And with a decent measure of gin in each.

We all agreed that it was a great way to start the evening. Tanqueray 10 was especially created as the perfect gin for a Dry Martini, so we were in the right place. We enjoyed the citrus notes, the lime and grapefruit and the heavy juniper, all balanced nicely with the creaminess of the chamomile and the savoury notes from the coriander.

Afterwards, we ordered a round of different gin cocktails, some of which we had never tried or heard of before. Here are our thoughts:

The Foxtrot 

The Foxtrot  was the most refreshing and aromatic of our drinks. What made it special was the roof of frozen tonic and lime that brought out the citrus notes of orange and grapefruit and the powerful lime zestiness.

As we drank it, the lime came through loud and clear. For some of us it had notes of mojito. For others it was a bigger hit of lime, similar to a gimlet, which receded after the ice had started to melt, resulting in a better balanced and blended drink that retained its characteristic citrus sharpness.

Either way, it was delicious and one of our favourites of the evening.

Star of Bombay 

Bombay Sapphire’s flagship gin, Star of Bombay, like the others, arrived at the table with great fanfare. It ended up being one of our favourites of the evening.

Served in the standard Dry Martini tumblers with plenty of ice, it was also (bizarrely) served with a single chocolate (courtesy of the marketing team at Bombay Sapphire). This was a mistake and didn’t seem to go with the gin at all. We picked up a saltiness to this gin (alongside the citrussy taste) which just didn’t work with the gimmicky chocolate. But we concluded that this gin would be delicious on a hot summers day, sipping slowly at a little chiringuito or beach bar on the nearby Med.

Porte des Indes

This was the most disappointing of the gins we tried at Dry Martini.

While it received the same presentational treatment as the others, it lacked any distinctive flavour and competed with the Schweppes tonic water for taste. It was also slightly less carbonated than the other drinks (maybe a result of the stirring at the table). The overall impression was to make the drink taste like diet tonic.

Won’t be rushing back for this one (but their strawberry version is delicious).

Bloomsbury 

Bloomsbury gin was not bad at all, but definitely not the best that we had this evening.

Made by Tanqueray, it is the latest of their Limited-Edition gins. And to us it felt like it was tangy, dry, citrussy with floral notes that smelled almost like lavender. The angelica bark, cassia and juniper add some woody notes to the smell. But when added to Schweppes tonic water, it became almost piny with a pleasant bitterness that lasted until the bottom of the glass.

Note: Dry Martini also runs a cocktail school. Plus it has opened a Dry Martini terrace next door. Sign up to our blogs if you’re interested in knowing their tricks and secrets.


Solange

Right across the street from Dry Martini is one of the latest additions to the Barcelona cocktail bars scene: Solange.

Solange sits on the opposite corner, looking out at its more well-known neighbour. But this place is cosy, intimate, jazzy and sophisticated (in a sort of 1970s, chicken Kiev kind of way).

The gin selection is awesome. It features prominently on their bar display with some established brands and some more unusual ones all waiting there, tempting you to try them out.

Speak to the head bartender and you’ll find he has history: some of the Savoy bar staff popped in to check things out on my last visit there. This is a classic place with a growing reputation. And while it might be trying too hard for some people’s tastes, it’s ideal for a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner nightcap. Or, frankly, anything in between. One thing is for sure. This is a place that takes real pride in every drink they pour. And it shows.

Talk to the knowledgeable staff about any cocktail and they’ll happily share their insight and knowledge with you while offering handy tips about things to do in Barcelona.

This is probably my favourite bar in town. It’s not cheap, but worth every penny if you want a sophisticated haven to escape the Barcelona heat in the Summer or for a warming drink in the winter.

Il Gin del Professore

Monsieur The Professor gin was dry, citrussy with notes of lemon peel. It tasted like a proper gin. Plus it had a slightly bitter edge, which reminded us of lime marmalade or bitter orange. It was Juniper dominant. And after a few sips, its spicy, aromatic side came through which worked well with the cardamom camomile, cinnamon and vanilla. Soft, with jammy feel in the mouth. We loved it

Delicious!

Old Raj 

Old Raj gin was a classic gin with loads of botanicals, including juniper, citrus, coriander, cassia. It had a slight golden tint delivered by a hint of saffron.

Served with a twist of lemon rind, it was slightly bitter. But we felt it lacked some of the structure and complexity of other gins available.

All in all, it was a bit disappointing bitter due to its lack of depth and neutral flavour balance.


Tandem

Tandem was the last of the classic Barcelona cocktail bars on our list. But it was definitely last but not least. In fact, all four of us (and I swear it wasn’t just the gin kicking in) said it was our favourite.

With some of the classic pedigree of Dry Martini, but less of the slightly tourist touristy vibe of Solange, this felt like it was an old school cocktail bar that has got it just about right.

A long bar, 1930s artwork and atmospheric lighting add to the art deco mood. And while we weren’t able to access a menu, the gin selection is extensive. And they know their stuff.

All the range

Our waitress guided us to the gin wall where we selected four gins that we had never tried before and we were delighted with the results. The crowd was low key and happy and it felt like this was tapping into the local neighbourhood for many of its customers. Classy and full of charm, this is the bee’s knees, the top banana and the dog’s bollocks all rolled into one.

You get the feeling that this place is the sort of place you stumble across once and then make a pilgrimage time and time again to get more. The music was low key, the crowd were chilled out and the bar staff were the most knowledgeable.

While Dry Martini felt like it had become a bit of a business and might be resting on its reputation, and Solange looks like it’s parked its tanks on the lawn opposite to stake its claim and build its reputation, the easy ambiance and relaxed vibe of Tandem felt like we’d discovered the real deal. Definitely our top pick for a classic cocktail bar and one of the best Barcelona cocktail bars to drink gin in.

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Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Gin made from milk: Bertha's Revenge

A gin made of milk: Bertha’s Revenge

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin reviews | 1

In our relentless quest to find the most unusual and interesting gins from around the world, let us introduce you to Bertha, her revenge, and a gin made from milk.

Bertha was a lovely cow from the beautiful green fields of Co. Kerry in Ireland. She lived a happy life, chomping her way through the famous green grass of her homeland. She was so well looked after that she lived to the ripe old age of 48. By the time she passed on to chomp on the Elysian fields, she had become the world’s oldest cow. She gave birth to a staggering 39 calves over her lifetime.

She became a living legend in Ireland and her memory now lives on in Bertha’s Revenge (paid link), a fantastic, flavour packed small batch gin made by the Ballyvolane House Spirits Company. They have honoured her existence by creating a unique Irish gin made from (wait for it…) milk.

A gin made from milk?

Using whey alcohol from Irish dairy farmers, this is a delicious drink full of complex flavours. It incorporates a formidable mix of locally foraged and grown botanicals including many of the usual suspects (and some unusual ones such as sweet woodruff, elderflower, almond). Plus it lists ingredients such as “love”, “laughter” and “childish enthusiasm”. But don’t try pouring it on your cornflakes, since it packs a decent punch at 42% ABV.

But all the clever marketing in the world can’t disguise a bad gin, so what’s this gin made from milk like?

We had a little gathering to find out and in a blind test of four of our favourite small batch gins, this was our runaway favourite with an unanimous four out of four tasters making it their top choice. Why don’t you try it too and let us know what you think?

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Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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A Singapore Sling recipe pic.

The Singapore Sling: classic and exotic

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

The Singapore Sling classic cocktail was invented in Singapore’s Raffles Hotel where it started off as a Straits Sling.

However, this appeared a little too dry for the contemporary taste buds. So, the head bartender decided to sweeten it up a bit. He replaced Kirsch with cherry brandy and lengthened the drink to make it more refreshing.

The result:  one of the most famous gin-based cocktails in the world, ready to refresh your taste-buds on a hot day and transport you to a fan-cooled veranda on a hot and humid Singapore day. Aaaah! I can taste it now…

Singapore Sling recipe

Ingredients:

Method:

Build the first 4 ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass, then stir, top up with soda water and add the bitters.

For a spicy twist on the classic recipe, replace soda water with ginger beer or ginger ale, sit back and pretend you’re in Singapore.

Did you know?

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The Singapore Sling was originally simply called the Gin Sling, but as its fame developed local ingredients such as Sarawak pineapple juice were added.

Sometime around 1930, it took its current name and the recipe was the listed in the Savoy Cocktail book (paid link) based on the memories of the bartenders at the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. Over the years, it has had many incarnations with many variations.

The most well known is the Singapore Sling but variations are plentiful and include the Gin Sling and the Straits Sling, a punch version that can serve up to six people. Whatever your preferred mix, this is a cocktail redolent of classic colonial Singapore. Mix one up and let us know what you think…


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

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What is a Gin Sling?

So, what exactly is a Gin Sling?
We’re not talking broken arms or hammocks here. The Sling is one of the best things to do with your gin and it’s been around for ages.
A “sling” drink started out in 18th century America as a long alcoholic drink, composed of spirit and water, sweetened and flavoured and served cold.

But it took a Hainanese bartender called Ngiam Tong Boon to make it famous when he was working at The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. One day, some time before 1915, he decided to create a drink for his colonial clients at the famous hotel bar.

It was originally simply called the “Gin Sling” but as its fame developed, local ingredients such as the juice of Sarawak pineapples was added and word of this delicious concoction soon spread across the empire.
Sometime around 1930, it took its current name, the “Singapore Sling” and the recipe settled based on the memories of the hotels bartenders until eventually it was listed in the Savoy Cocktail book (paid link) and became the classic cocktail that it now is (check out all our cocktail recipes here).

Over the years, it has had many incarnations with many variations on the original recipe
The most well-known is the Singapore Sling but variations are plentiful and include the Gin Sling, the Singapore Sling, the Straits Sling (a punch version that can serve up to 6 people).

We love a bit of history and folklore and this is a great story, redolent of classic colonial Singapore. Mix one up and let us know what you think…

Cotton House Hotel roof terrace

The Cotton House roof terrace in Barcelona

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin bar reviews | 0

Following our colonial theme, try out the Cotton House Hotel roof terrace for a classic colonial vibe, sipping a nice G&T looking up at the rooftops of Barcelona.

We went there on a recent early Summer evening and swept up the grand staircase towards the lift, which whisked us up to their classic roof terrace where we ordered a round of classic and unusual gins and soaked up the atmosphere…

Despite a slow start to service, the terrace itself is a hidden treasure, full of colonial ambiance with cane chairs and hanging flowers. We went in for dinner (the most amazing pop up Indian restaurant by Atul Kulchar) before returning after dinner to try another round of G&Ts chosen from their reasonable selection of gins.

Cotton House Hotel roof terraceVerdict: the Cotton House Hotel roof terrace has lovely atmosphere and ambiance in a stunning hotel. Only let down by confused and disorganised service and very expensive drinks (although I guess that should be expected at a 5 star hotel on one of the main streets in Barcelona).
We would return, for the atmosphere, not for the service.

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gin bars born barcelona

Born again tasting walk

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin bar reviews | 0

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 as it is full of little gems.

Tha Barcelon Gin dream team tried 4 bars on a Friday night, all within a few minutes walk of each other and all with a completely different vibe.

DuxBCN

Dux cocktail  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.

The place 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.

Rubi Bar

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.

Paradiso

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.

Collage

Collage cocktail bar is 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 (paid links)  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.

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