Every hour is 5 o’clock in Madrid and it’s never a challenge to find a libation in any one of the city’s 30,000 bars and restaurants.
Cocktail bars aren’t as ubiquitous in Madrid as in other urban destinations because drinking wine or beer in any tapas bar is much more affordable. But there is a growing roster of fabulous and inventive cocktail bars that are executing mixology to perfection. Here are our top picks for cocktail bars in all of Madrid, where you will always find an excellent drink, intriguing ambience and good times galore.
1862 Dry Bar
Calle del Pez, 27, 28004 Madrid, Spain
1862 Dry Bar is always one of the first options that pop up when searching for cocktail bars in Madrid. The owner, Alberto, was a pioneer when he opened one of the first high-quality craft cocktail bars in the city nine years ago. 1862 Dry Bar is an homage to the year when the very first book of cocktails was published by Jerry Thomas. It continues to enjoy its righteous reputation as a place where you can get a cocktail made perfectly every time, plus a ranking in the Top 500 Bars.
The bar sticks to making classic drinks extremely well with slight elegant twists. Nothing too sweet or over-the-top. Twists like the Fetiche Negroni with Campari, vermouth, elderflower and lime cordial. Or the Viejísimo Adonis with amontillado, sherry vermouth and orange bitters. Every drink is classic and well-balanced. But of course, this is the kind of bar where the bartender can make any drink you name off the top of your head. So even if nothing on the season menu tickles your fancy, you’re guaranteed to have an excellent cocktail perfectly tailored to your liking.
Calle de Lope de Vega, 30, 28014 Madrid, Spain
If you’re looking to experience something you’ve never seen before, look no further than La Santoría. La Santoría easily takes the cake for most imaginative décor. Everything is wrapped in intrigue and mystery, starting with the entrance: a black door with no sign in the middle of Barrio de las Letras. Inside is a wondrous shrine of mysticism and kitsch. Pictures of saints and rosary beads flicker under candle light. Crosses, flowers and dark moody lighting expertly conjure the magic and mysticism of the Afro-Latino religion, la Santería. Keeping with the mystical theme, you can even get tarot readings done at the bar every Thursday.
Bernardo and Mariano, the fabulous co-owners of La Santoría, serve original cocktails dressed as magical elixirs and potions. It’s supposed that these elixirs to dispel demons and heal your spirit. They have fun names like Sal De Mí (Get out of me), made with cachaça, roses and pineapple. And Ven A Mí (Come to me) made with whiskey, orange and the bar’s aromatic homemade masala chai. When you’re in the mood for something magical, La Santoría is there to sweep you away into the supernatural.
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Calle de la Sombrerería, 3, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Savas is a cozy neighborhood bar in the heart of vibrant Lavapies. The presence of Dovi and Gintas, the sweetest couple and co-owners of Savas, gives the bar an extra close, personal touch. Savas is truly a hidden gem and it’s easy to pass the nondescript wooden door. But once inside, the warm minimalist décor with white tiles and red stripes has a similar feel to a 1950s diner. Taking cues from the décor, the cocktails at Savas are also clean and minimalist. The menu is a shortlist of refreshing classics like Tom Collins, Gimlets and Bourbon Smashes. It also includes a few other classics with subtle tasteful twists. The must-try is their not-too-sweet White Russian with delicious Averna amaro. Another must-try is the Masala Gin Fizz with the slightest touch of masala spice infused in the perfectly constructed foam. Savas is a wonderful, unpretentious place to have a drink while rubbing shoulders with locals from the neighborhood day or night.
Santos y Desamparados
Costanilla de los Desamparados, 4, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Santos y Desamparados is a stunning venue which effortlessly combines grunge with high class. Those who have an emo side will love the mood at Santos y Desamparados. The décor is dark and gothic, featuring crosses, wilted flowers and even a confession booth in the back. The best of rock, metal and punk, such as the likes of System of a Down and Arcade Fire, plays in the background. Throw in some cute heavily tattooed bartenders and the cool goth vibe perfectly comes together.
The cocktail menu is just as edgy and stimulating as the décor. There’s an impressive array of options broken down by type of liquor, so there’s something for everyone. The crowd favorite is El Dragon Amarillo (the Yellow Dragon), featuring tequila infused with ají amarillo pepper, grapefruit, passionfruit and apricot foam. There’s also Whore, a cheeky red number made with whiskey, port and a tinge of coconut. Come for the cocktails and stay for the dark and sexy vibes. Santos y Desamparados gives you the emo goth sanctuary you didn’t know you needed.
Calle de la Reina, 16, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Bar Cock is an indisputable institution in Madrid and has been ever since 1921. The legend goes that Emilio Saracho and Perico Chicote went to London to import the stylings and furnishings of a classic English club to Madrid. But their main focus was to serve the most impeccable cocktails in the city. Since opening its doors, Bar Cock has been the favored watering hole of the intelligentsia, politicians and movie stars. Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Harrison Ford and George Clooney have passed through its stately oak doors.
It’s not difficult to see why Bar Cock still stands after an entire century, once you witness the immaculate cocktails which are flawlessly prepared. Name any classic cocktail and you will see it meticulously made exactly how it’s supposed to be. If you’re lucky, it will be the head bartender, Javier, with his flawless technique making your drink. In a sea of newer, ultra-hip cocktail bars, Bar Cock’s unchanged vintage décor is more original than ever. The soaring ceilings with wooden beams, the leather banquettes and the sparkling bottles illuminated in the glass shelves instantly take you back to the glamorous Old World.
Calle de Zurbano, 5, 28010 Madrid, Spain
Bénares is a high-end Indian restaurant with vibrant interior design and a garden terrace to die for. But the restaurant’s bar deserves to be recognized all on its own. The bar at Bénares is where you can fall in love with creative cocktails that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. This is all thanks to the genius head bartender, Fernanda, who is a saint for gracing the bar menu with her original mixology.
Each item on the cocktail menu is fresh, perfectly-balanced and unique. El Duende is a must-have for those who are always looking for boozy-yet-refreshing. The delicate mix of gin, sherry, lemongrass, chamomile and cardamom bitters will keep you buzzing and smiling throughout the afternoon. El Mexicano is another must-try, which features mezcal, chili-infused agave syrup, celery juice and smoked salt water. If you want to try something that will really light up your taste buds, order the Morning Martini, which features Fernanda’s own brand of special liqueur made with flor eléctrica. With inventive cocktails and a gorgeous indoor and outdoor venue to enjoy them, Bénares definitely will not disappoint even the most exacting cocktail aficionados.