Currency Euro (EUR)
Airport El Prat International Airport (BCN)
Time difference from LAX +9 hours
We escaped the downpour after dinner in the warm embrace of the underground metro; our quest to do a tapas bar hop stopped by the sudden onset of heavy rain. As we trudged up the stairs, we were surprised to see the rain had cleared. We were a group of seven: all friends from university who somehow managed to coordinate our erratic work schedules to go on a week-long trip to Spain. Right now, it was only seven, an early night in the streets of Barcelona.
I had the grand duty of finding an open grocery store to curb our cravings for jamón, a task I should have known to have gone little in my favor as it was a Sunday night. I led confidently anyway, but after half a mile in the wrong direction and several closed stores later, I gave up the informally nominated role of expert navigator.
“Your travel experience credibility is sinking!” my friend, Rosanna, joked.
“Are you sure you’ve done a lot of traveling?” my friend, Audrey chimed in, adding into the banter.
We were in high spirits, despite the lack of ingested spirits - the feeling of being in a new city with long-time friends most likely the cause of our euphoria. Our quest to find a market seemed increasingly dim, but I knew one thing I was good at: finding drinks and food.
I re-claimed the title and meandered through the smaller streets away from Barcelona’s Avinguda Diagonal, deeper into the alleys and into a tucked away bar. We walked into a hushed, dim space, the interior reminiscent of a prohibition-era New York speakeasy. Black and white photos dressed the walls while the muted red glow of candles dotted the tables. We sat at the bar and flipped through the menus. I knew immediately which section I was looking for: gin and tonic.
While a gin and tonic is considered a basic, almost boring drink in most American bars, the reverse can be said for Spain. Smoked herb garnishes, infused gin, house-made tonics, ice slow to melt - Spaniards have taken the classic gin & tonic and turned it into an obsession. If gin & tonic in the US is equivalent to a Myspace era compressed profile photo, then the gin tonic in Spain is an Instagram photo slapped with a face-slimming, skin-bronzing filter and decked out with appropriate GIF images - something you didn’t know you needed until you tried it.
I ordered the garlic and calamari-infused gin tonic, a recommendation from the bartender. My drink was handed to me, the liquid jet black from the squid ink, topped with a thick foamy white layer and dusted with parmesan snow. A charred rosemary sprig and symmetrically cut lemon peel served as garnishes. I took a sip - the garlic was subtly sweet, with a hint of bitterness from the tonic. It was delicious, both savory and sweet, refreshing and filling.
“Okay, you redeemed your credibility with this one,” my friend, Olivia said, after taking a sip.
As we walked back to our hotel, we spotted a 23-hour convenience store, which, with my luck, happened to be shut during the one hour we arrived. Let’s just say we never got our jamón fix that evening, but the gin tonic generously filled the empty space.
Old Fashioned - Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar
Carrer de Santa Teresa, 1, 08012 Barcelona, Spain
Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47, 08012 Barcelona, Spain