Areia is one of the best places to go out in Madrid, actually I am not really eager to share it because it gets busier and it is more complicated to find a spot on one of the couches or beds on which you can lay down as if you were is an authentic Jaima.
The decoration is warm, with an exotic and relaxing style, chill out music with an ideal fade light to go with the cocktails and teas you can get. You can also try what they have to eat, I recommend the salad, even though you cannot leave without trying the cocktails and teas, really, they are worth their price.
Vía Láctea is one of Madrid’s nightlife most legendary places. It’s been open since 1979 and it was the place where big names of the show and film industry met in the 80’s, like Almodóvar for example.
When it opened, it was the first of its kind in Madrid, and it became the most alternative business in the city at that time. A lot of people waited in line in order to get in.
It’s quite big on the inside, with two floors and a peculiar decoration, its walls covered with posters and signs.
I personally love it. It was one of the first places I went to when I started to go out at night. It’s a place where you can sit calmly to drink something, play pool and dance.
This was the most British and most lively stop on our gin and tonic route. We’re at a place that you can go to on a Friday at 11:30 PM to start the night with the best-tasting drinks. That’s what I did and that’s what I recommend you do.
The environment was totally British, I don’t know any better way to describe it. It has since become one of my favorite bars in all of Madrid, and not for the elevated prices. I love this place for the enjoyable feeling you have being there with a (really great) drink in your hand.
We drank two gin and tonics; each was extremely good. One was The Duke and the other Sipsmith (my favorite). This place is also famous for its brunch, we went at 11:30 PM and, as I said, the atmosphere was lively with a perfect fusion between Americans, Brits, Spaniards and the rest of the world.
: You immediately notice those places which aren’t chasing the latest trends, but rather seem to have professionalism and quality built into their DNA. Del Diego is one of these places and has spent the last 22 years serving the best cocktails in Madrid. Don’t expect one of those trendy, ubiquitous flavored gin and tonics with a cute straw. What’s important here are the precise measurements necessary to make a perfect-tasting, classic cocktail. Under Don Diego’s recommendations, I ordered a Broker’s Premium London Gin (11 euros) and it was a marvelous choice. After my years of gin-drinking experience, I’m convinced that many cocktail bars give you low-quality spirits (known locally as garrafón) at a top-shelf price. But in Del Diego, you can rest assured that the gin is top-quality (the lack of a hangover is proof). Although the bar is quite small and, for my tastes, is too-brightly lit, it does have something which makes it special. I’m already planning my next night there!
Is there a cocktail lounge in Madrid with a retro London vibe, not to mention a terrace that takes you back to another time, and perfect to enjoy both in the summer or the winter? Although you might not believe me, the answer is yes! And I’ve found the place!
I made a great discovery while out on a typical night of “fiesta” with friends. We were looking for a place to take refuge, and suddenly we were at the door of this wonderful place. Of course, we were young and it didn’t even the leave slightest impression on us. Years later, I finally discovered Broker Pub Garden. It’s a great place. The service is great (I didn’t say excellent) and the terrace… you have to see the terrace! Cocktails? Whatever you can think of and more. Types of gin? More than you can imagine. I went for something exotic, smooth and aromatic. Like always on the gin and tonic route, I asked the waitress to recommend a gin and tonic to me. The gin in question was Magellan and was served in a nice glass. It was really good. We had the first round in the inside, surrounded by a complete English atmosphere. Totally relaxed.
We then decided to step out onto the deck, we found it perfectly equipped with heat lamps and a charm impossible to beat. Good service, great environment, and a fantastic, dreamy terrace. These are reasons enough to stop by O’Clock on your gin and tonic route across Madrid.
The Wild Thing Bar is probably one of the most charismatic bars in Madrid. I went there for the first time at least eight years ago, and I used to frequent it a lot, especially Thursdays since they have happy hour until 1:00.
It’s a bar where you can listen to great classics of rock, as well as contemporary rock music. Its walls are completely covered with posters of bands and artists, mainly international ones.
Maybe what strikes one the most are the figures of the Blues Brothers, which they used to have in the exterior, making people recognize it more for this than for any other thing, since they were quite flashy. Now they keep them inside.
Another recommendable place to spend a good night.
The inside of the Gran Melia Fénix Hotel hides a truly luxurious cocktail lounge. There’s ample space, excellent service and luxurious decoration, all together with a ton of drink possibilities.
We came to have a gin and tonic at Dry Martini Bar, an absolutely distinct environment which we knew we were going to love. If you head down Hermosilla Street, almost to Paseo de la Castellana, you’ll find the Gran Malia Fénix hotel. They’ll let you know where the bar is upon entry. Well, you really can’t consider this a bar; it’s another dimension of the word. The bar holds a cozy 19 people, but we pass through the hall into the galactic Dry Cosmopolitan bar. Here, you sit on armchairs like a noble lord. The waiters will kindly explain all the drink options to you.
What did we order? There’s so much to choose from… the cocktail menu is packed with attractive options (about 14€ a drink). But I came to have a gin & tonic, and that’s what I’m gonna do. Here, you don’t have to worry if the bar staff knows the drink, or how to make it. Everything is a safe bet. They’ll prepare whatever it is you ask for better than you’ve ever had it. Gin choices? They have every type imaginable. What else could you ask for? Well, a better atmosphere, haha… This place is a little bit too focused on the upscale, elder client, which is fine, but at 2 in the morning there should be a better atmosphere as one starts to look for some activity and entertainment.
Javier de las Muelas is in charge of the operation. He’s considered by many as one of the best bartenders in the world (according to many internet articles). Before working here, he worked at the Dry Cosmopolitan Bar in Barcelona (write it down for when you head to Barcelona).
In short, it’s another unavoidable stop on the Gin & Tonic tour. Ah, an interesting fact: when we went to the bar (which deserves a visit), we listened to one of the barmen explain how the cocktail glasses/cups are stored in a -10º C chamber.
Waltz into Fábrica Maravillas bang on opening time and you’ll notice the faint, sweet whiff of fermentation. It’s a warm, yeasty welcome to the best of Madrid’s two brewpubs (the other, Naturbier, in Plaza Santa Ana, only does a couple of beers and the faux German beer-hall decor really rubs me the wrong way). By day American brewmaster Dave works his magic amongst the stainless steel vats (visible through the big glass walls) and by night the factory transforms into a bar, filling with a curious mix of beer-geeks, beautiful people and anyone else who’s washed their hands of Mahou.
“We wanted to create a space where people – even occasional beer drinkers – feel welcome and comfortable,” Hernando, one of the six owners (all of whom are local to the barrio), told me the week they opened. Old-school beer bars – dimly-lit wood-lined caves, crammed with a dizzying array of difficult to pronounce beers – are intimidating to the uninitiated; to the non beer-geek. And the last thing the Fábrica Maravillas team wanted was to intimidate Madrilenians, most of whom have been raised on light, industrial lagers. What they’ve achieved is almost zen in its minimalism. With pale wood benches, ivory walls and white-washed exposed brick, Fábrica Maravillas is an inviting, luminous and utterly beautiful place to drink.
But – most importantly – the beer is excellent. Dave brews three flagship beers: the pear-infused Saison Valverde, the fresh Malsaña Ale and, my favourite so far, the FL(IPA), a tarty tongue-smack of an IPA. Alongside those three perennials, Dave will be cooking other brews to match the season, with heavier beers (like the Cabrona – a chocolatey quadruple) for the nipple-biting Madrid winter, and lighter, thirst-busting brews for Madrid’s fry-an-egg-on-your-car summer months.
Prices are pleasingly low, because, well, they’re making it four feet from where you’re drinking. And – in a canny move – they serve their creations in the traditional caña glass size. It melds Madrid beer tradition with the city’s beer future and no doubt makes craft beer a little less alien to wary locals. But if you like to settle into your brew, don’t worry, half and full pints are also on the menu. And if you do fall for any beer in particular, grab a Growler (a half-gallon bottle) to take-away (whether it’s back to your room at the Ritz or the park for a picnic).
As wonderful as Fábrica Maravillas has turned out, brewmaster Dave told me that pulling the whole operation together wasn't easy. They struggled to find architects who understood a brewpub’s needs and were forced to do bloody battle with Spanish planning officers (turns out it’s not simple getting permission to open a beer factory in the centre of Madrid). By contrast, starting a similar setup in the States (where there craft beer boom is now 30-years-old) is almost as easy as dialing 1-900-BREWPUB. I ask Dave what it's like launching a craft beer business in Madrid in 2012 after having lived through the American renaissance. “It’s like going back in time,” he says. “Like being from the future. You kind of have an insight of the things to come. Because right now it’s year one in the Madrid craft beer scene... It’s an exciting time; you’re seeing everything take off.”
Happily, you don’t need to be a local craft brewer to experience that giddy feeling of being at the birth of something cool. Just sitting in Fábrica Maravillas, or one of Madrid's few other craft beer bars, you can feel the thrill of an industry – and a local culture – lifting off. Or maybe that’s just the beer talking.
Last thing. If you’re reading this over a pint in Fábrica Maravillas, you might be wondering what that furry green thing climbing up the wall in the corner is. It’s the infamous vertical moss garden, of course. It brings a flash of colour to the bar’s snow-white digs and – for the time being – is about as close as you’ll get to a biergarten in Madrid.
I usually don’t go out in Madrid as often as I do when I’m in a foreign country, but still I really like this bar. It’s a very well known Irish pub in Huertas area. It’s quite big, with two floors and a nice atmosphere.
They have many interesting activities. On Tuesdays, for example, a language exchange takes place between Erasmus students that want to meet new people and practice their Spanish and locals that want to improve their English.
Wednesday is shot night and Thursday is tequila night. You can also go enjoy one of their beers and food while you watch a football or rugby match. They also have live music.
Even though I really like Madrid’s downtown area, one of my favorite neighborhoods to go out is Prosperidad. Maybe it’s because it’s close to home, but also because it’s full of quality bars such as this one, Garaje Hermético, one of my favorites of this area.
The decoration is really nice but, without a doubt, its most attractive attribute is the car: an old jaguar stuck to the wall! No doubt it is one of the most original decorations that I have ever seen. It has an enormous bar, which allows you to get drinks even when it’s packed, like in the weekends. The fluorescent lights on the bar are also quite attractive, as well as the Moebius’ drawings on the walls and the staircase that leads to nowhere. They also have a pool table and darts.
The music is really good: rock music or punk from the seventies. You can hear great songs from groups and artists such as The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin and Stevie Wonder.
There are many places to have a drink in Madrid, of course. And many of them have are especially charming. But for some reason there are some that stand out a little more among the rest.
And this is one of them, without a doubt. It is located right in Gran Vía, the perfect location as you can see. And up there it is really nice. It is the perfect place to have a gin tonic, now it is trendy. You can also let the barman advise you, he is really good.
If you go during the summer, there usually is a nice breeze. And, if not, you will always be able to enjoy the beautiful view.
In my case it was the perfect final point of an entire day in the new Madrid.
You’re now crossing into Ballesta. The name means “crossbow”, and it’s an appropriately arresting moniker for this small sub-barrio north of Gran Vía, for many years a downtrodden maze of dank backstreets, sweaty pimps and past-their-prime prostitutes. But fear not. In the last few years the area has been reclaimed, revitalised and re-baptised. It’s now called “TriBall”. And within these not-so-quiet streets lies Irreale – officially, by a few months anyway, Madrid’s first craft beer-only bar.
If you like your drinking holes dark, then Irreale is right up your alley. This often-bustling bar is long, narrow and deliciously low-lit. But it’s not a cave; the warm bamboo-toned walls and big brassy bar seem to give off a burnished golden glow. And the mix of jazz and blues on the soundtrack sits perfectly with the decor. Upwards of 30 different bottled beers line the wall – BrewDog, Mekkeller and Lost Abbey, among others – and six regularly rotating taps make this an excellent stop on any Madrid craft beer pilgrimage. Space permitting, they want to add two or three more taps pronto.
When I first swung by some months back the man behind the bar (and the beer menu) was Iacopo, a jaunty Italian. But he recently decamped to run the bar at La Tape, and Irreale’s new ringmaster is a passionate and highly knowledgable beer blogger-cum-bartender named Raúl. This man knows beer by heart – when I told him I was from far-flung New Zealand he rhapsodised about my country’s hops and wrote me up a list of New Zealand bars and beers that I have to try next time I’m in Auckland. Needless to say, he likes to talk about his passion and, for those from a foreign land, his English is spot on.
If you’re hungry, there’s a short but sharp selection of well-priced Spanish plates to share – jamón, lomo, croquetas and their ilk – as well as foreign fare like German sausages and mini-hamburgers. And if the beer in your glass isn’t enough, one of the most popular dishes on the menu is a plate of soft cheese whipped with beer. It tends to run out, so order quick smart.
Raúl heartily supports local brewers, always making sure sure there are a decent number of Madrilenian and Spanish suds spilling out of the taps. And last time I propped up his bar, he’d just plugged in a keg from Fábrica Maravillas, the brewpub that had recently opened around the corner. It was a fine sign. Fábrica Maravillas and Irreale are theoretically in competition, but such is the nascent Madrid craft beer scene that even between between competitors it’s a little like one big happy family. Will the love last? Surely power players are seeing that there be gold in them thar hills – especially given the lucrative craft beer markets overseas. And once the money muscles in, the atmosphere will probably change. For the moment though, enjoy the collegial and grassroots vibe.
And if you are looking for somewhere to go after Irreale, Fábrica Maravillas is only a few minutes walk away (or slightly longer if you’re already legless).