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How to Pretend You’re as Crazy for Gin and Brunch as Barcelona Is

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Santa Marea

Over the past decade, Barcelona has become synonymous with gin, helping to lead the global juniper revival one perfectly crafted Gin & Tonic (or as they’re known in Spain, Gin Tonic) at a time. Despite the country’s ongoing recession, or perhaps because of it, gin consumption has seen steady growth in recent years, with gin-focused bars serving as a draw for those looking to move beyond entry-level (classically British) Gin & Tonics and into previously uncharted herbal waters.

The focus on curious, bubbly and potent small-batch tonics at bars like Bobby Gin and the addition of surprising supporting cast members to the drink (peppercorns, parsley, grapefruit bitters) found at places like Old Fashioned means no one is want for ways to experiment with the drink across the city. The revival has also proven to be a boon for small-time Spanish gin producers, who’ve found a fresh audience for their wares at places like Xixbar’s by-the-bottle gin store, which sells more than 50 varieties from across the country and world.  

While Gin & Tonics might be ideal for sipping alongside tapas or carrying folks into the wee small hours of the morning, gin is a spirit that’s proven ideal for day drinking, too, thanks to its herbal notes and refreshing versatility. Check out these light produce-driven gin cocktails found at Barcelona bars to inspire a leisurely alfresco brunch.

1. Ginger Gin Fizz (Xixbar)

A darling of the international gin world, Xixbar (pronounced “chix” bar) has more than 80 (yes, 80) Gin & Tonic combinations to suit every palate, occasion or tippling whim, including a refreshing Ginger Gin Fizz. Made with ginger-infused gin, lemon and lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, ginger bitters and club soda, this cocktail is ideal for an early-morning pick-me-up. The bar’s black-and-white tiled walls hark back to when the intimate space was a granja, or “milk bar,” a longstanding Barcelona tradition that feels equally sunrise-appropriate.  

2. Nordes (Old Fashioned)

The speakeasy stylings (suspenders, red velvet) of Old Fashioned might feel somewhat familiar, but the menu of Gin & Tonics is anything but. Afternoon-ready ingredients range from lavender bitters to Vietnamese cinnamon on a menu that feels gleefully packed. The Nordes is particularly adventurous, prepared with gin, hibiscus bitters, eucalyptus berries, lemon peel and 1724 tonic water. If you’re looking for a more traditional brunch cocktail that still packs a gin-based punch, the bar also serves up a Red Snapper as part of its extensive Bloody Mary menu.

3. Delorean (Polaroid Bar)

No, you can’t get your old-school photos developed there, but at Polaroid Bar, guests can trip down memory lane with some seriously fun ’80s-inspired vibes. Playful nostalgia, with a neon-hued ambiance, runs the gamut from Flashdance posters to Pac-Man games. Naturally, its gin-based, day-drinking sipper of choice is called the Delorean (made with blue Curacao, lime juice and white sugar), which might just help bring you back to the future (or, er, the present) after a long night of drinking.

4. Smoked Clover Club (Arola)

Sunday brunch is a fairly new addition at this Hotel Arts staple, where bartender Diego Baud charms guests with cocktails built around ingredients freshly plucked from the property’s garden. While the dining menu ranges includes gorgeously intricate dishes like flamed sardines and truffle eggs benedict, the clean, bright notes of the Smoked Clover Club, comprised of gin, yuzu, smoked lapsang souchong syrup and raspberries, make for the perfect accompanying palate cleanser.

5. Ginrose Fizz (Elephanta)

Tea time takes a tippling turn at Elephanta, where the Ginrose Fizz cocktail is the stuff of woozy, romantic dreams. With more than 40 gin varieties, the bar offers ample opportunities to compare tasting notes with your fellow drinkers over gin flights, but it’s this heart-fluttering drink that steals the show. Comprised of tea-infused gin, rose petals, lime zest, lemon, egg white and tonic, it’s ideal for sipping while recalling the play-by-play of a great first date with friends.

6. Santa Marea (Bobby Gin)

At Bobby Gin, the beloved, juniper-based spirit is never far from the eye or lips, with script on the walls proclaiming edicts like, “There is no such thing as a perfect gin tonic,” and a sprawling back bar full of gin and gin-mixers just asking to be mixed and matched. The bar feels simultaneously polished and low-key, encouraging guests to push the limits of the classic gin tonic with ingredients like kaffir limes and rose tea infusions in a safe space. For day drinking? The Santa Marea is a solid bet, made with Gin Mare, thyme liqueur, aromatic wine syrup, fresh lemon juice and celery bitters.

Series & Type: Cocktails Travel
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