The Spot – hangouts you should visit at least once in your life.
Dry Martini is the iconic Barcelona bar that spawned a cocktail empire. When Javier de las Muelas first took it over, he was already building on a solid fountain: Don Pere Carbonell ran the august establishment and in the old tradition of master craftsmen, he handed the baton on to the man that he saw as best skilled to build on his legacy. That man, of course, was Javier. Let’s not forget, however, that Javier had already proved his abilities in the noble art of cocktail mixing with his own bar Gimlet that opened in 1979.
Perhaps rather strangely for the “founder of mixology”, Carobnell long held to the tradition of the martinería. Dry Martini only served cocktails containing that special concoction that gave the place its name, though he did later concede to the demands for newfangled tastes such as the Gin Fizz, Margarita, Negroni and Whiskey Sour. Javier, however, wanted to stay true to its roots and even the art works on the walls pay testimony to probably the most famous cocktail in the world.
Situated in the centre of the city’s proud 19th-century reinvention, just off the stately Avinguda Diagonal, Dry Martini’s wood-panelled interior and leather chairs give off an air of indulgent relaxation, an interior perfect for the worldly whose leisure vices are always distinctive. Of course the amazing cocktails help. If you have any doubts that it’s possible to create an entire cocktail menu from a base of dry martini, then Javier’s genius will soon dispel them. For example, there are 23 cocktails specifically inspired by James Bond films alone. And we’re pretty certain that they’re all shaken not stirred.
The man didn’t get to be rated this highly and build an empire of upmarket watering holes with the world’s top hotels and hospitality entrepreneurs without knowing his stuff. And this stuff is as much about the perfect bar staff and service as it is about getting the liquid blend right. Once you’ve spent an hour kicking back with the perfect martini, it won’t surprise you in the least to learn that Dry Martini has again appeared on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars for the seventh year running.
Don’t let Javier’s celebrity and the fact that Dry Martini is now a chain –albeit a very high-end one– put you off. This Barcelona original still exudes charm and draws in an international crowd in which colourful local characters are not underrepresented. It’s a great place for late night conversations over drinks about the meaning of the universe or nothing in particular, whether with friends or easygoing regulars who understand how to while away time gracefully over an elegant drink or two. On a really good night you’ll all make a point of wobbling around to Gimlet to get in one for the road and pay homage to Javier’s own seminal speakeasy.