Reviews

The Bar Tab- Part 1

Welcome to The Bar Tab, a new section in the reviews category of my blog devoted to the bars that I visit in Barcelona. With a city as big as my beloved Barna and a culture that encourages drinking just about any hour after noon, there are no shortage of bars to explore. Below are descriptions of some interesting bars that I visited from October to December. (A little late, I know. But here you go.)

Olympic Bar

Carrer de Joaquín Costa, 25

Neighborhood, District: El Raval, Ciutat Vella

Just a ten minute walk from the historic University of Barcelona campus, Olympic Bar is a favorite among the young, drunk, and hip. I stopped by to watch the Barça versus Real Madrid fútbol rivalry and was happy to not be the only one yelling at the screen. (But get there early if you want a table for big matches!) Go for the cheap drinks and the bright, friendly atmosphere, but stay for the munchies and people-watching.

Big Bang Bar

Carrer Botella, 7

Neighborhood, District: El Raval, Ciutat Vella

Dim red lights and free live jazz every Friday and Saturday set the mood for curling up in a corner with a drink with a group of friends. Kick back after a long week and claim a sofa near the jazz band or a table near the bar for the best seats in the house. The music fills the small bar with enough soul to keep your conversations going until closing time.

***Terribly sad news: due to complaints about noise levels, Big Bang Bar has had to stop its live music. Big Bang, we raise a glass—or five—to mourn your loss.

Bollocks

Carrer Ample, 46

Neighborhood, District: El Gòtic, Ciutat Vella

Metal rock t-shirts, leather jackets, and impressive beards are only the tip of the iceberg: Bollocks is a rock bar taking rock to a whole new level. It’s one of the few bars in town that can get away with having a statue of a guitarist perched on a toilet. For cheap beer, fun cocktails, friendly bartenders, and great rock music in Barcelona, you can’t pass up Bollocks.

Collage

Carrer Consellers, 23

Neighborhood, District: Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera (El Born), Citutat Vella

The first time I went to Collage, I almost didn’t find it because it was so hidden in the backstreets of El Born. In this bohemian speakeasy, I was surprised to see bartenders in vests and pressed shirts preparing cocktails while groups of young people patiently pushed to the mosaic-tiled bar to fetch their drinks. While the space was limited, the good-times and alcohol seemed infinite. A narrow staircase lined with paintings of animals leads up to a cozy loft furnished with sofas, chairs, tables, and a piano. Collage is great for groups of friends craving a nice cocktail or for dates when you’re looking to impressive.

La Maison Belge Brasserie

Rambla de Brasil, 55

Neighborhood, District: Sants-Badal, Sants-Montjuïc

I rarely head up to this part of town, and when I do, I’m usually on my way to a Barça game. But after drinking a fine Belgian beer from La Maison Belge Brasserie, I just may be coming up here more often. I greeted the barkeep and explained how I like my beer: dark and just a little sweet. While there was a fridge of over a hundred specialty Belgian beers in the fridges, the barkeep recommended to me one of three beers that was on tap for the night. Val-dieu brune might as well be translated to “love in a glass” because it is one of the best beers I have ever drunk.

La Maison Belge Brasserie is a beer-lover’s heaven. If you want to pick up a bottle to enjoy at home, La Maison Belge Brasserie has a “mother” shop in the district of Gràcia at Carrer Montseny, 17. Here, the selection is even wider and the shop also offers Belgian chocolates, cheeses, and other delicacies of the country.

Bar Pastís

Carrer de Santa Mònica, 4

Neighborhood, District: El Raval, Ciutat Vella

At Bar Pastís, I discovered that I did not actually like pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur. This should have been obvious to me, as I am not a fan of anise, but I was so enamored with décor and music that harkened back to Paris in the 40s and 50s that I drank a quarter of the little glass before sheepishly ordering a beer. Not much has changed since the bar’s founding in 1947. The posters, trinkets, postcards, and newspaper clippings have merely multiplied, as if filling up the walls with memories and nostalgia. After all, this bar has the remarkable quality of making people miss things that they never had: Edith Piaf, post-war Paris, and film noir were but distant non-memories in my head, much like beautiful books whose titles have been erased over the years. Some say that time travel is impossible; Bar Pastís begs to differ.

“Hey Courtney, why don’t you have pictures of all these cool bars? I mean, that would be great.” “Because no one wants to be the annoying girl using flash photography in a dark bar where people are trying to enjoy their alcohol.”

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