There are tradeoffs when you switch countries. In moving to Spain I gained wine (lots and lots of it), but lost the cocktails (most all of them). Getting a decent cocktail is difficult because decent liquor is hard to find and outside of Barcelona, it’s impossible to find.
The problem is twofold. The first is that the selection of proper alcohols in Spain is quite shoddy. You have to pay a trip to shops like La Fuente or Escola Magetzem to begin to find the basic selection you find in the US at a store like Bevmo. And even with these shops (who, given the setting are quite good) you don’t find the selection that you do in the specialty shops of the US in cities such as San Francisco and NYC. Then of course there’s the price as my beloved monkey wrench of a Bourbon, Bulleit costs $22 a bottle in the US, but 27€ in Spain, when you can find it.
No bar wants to spend more than 20€ on a bottle and it shows given that you see the same exact 20 or so liquors in every restaurant’s “bar” no matter where you go. Whether it’s some xarnego joint in Sant Marti, a more upscale restaurant in Eixample, or the charming, yet funky Café Antic in the village of Porrera in the interior county of Priorat.
The photo above is what comprises this typical bar and this shot happened to be taken in a “Balkan Grill” called Paško’s in the horribly over-developed beach town of Roses near the French border. This one is actually better than most as the Gin selection has both Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire. This would be due to this town seeing a lot of British tourists and they probably found that having some of the yack piss Gins out there showed that the English know the difference and will not order any liquor that comes from a plastic jug.
Yes, there’s the Martini Rosso & Bianco (which I’ve found to be crap after having discovered Miró) and the ever present Osborne. A bottle of Anis de Mono is required which, after having tasting this liquor personally, I’m sure the old men who drink it, do so rectally. But then, the whiskeys fall flat as they always do. Always, it’s Scotch, which really, if it’s not aged until it’s old enough to drive is crap. The only American brown water they ever have is Jack Daniels of which, I am not a fan no matter how “Gentleman” they try to label it these days.
Naturally there are no bitters, no fresh fruits, no anything really except bottles that cost less than 20€ and can be kept forever or the ill-trained staff staff polish them off. The Spanish bar is not one of options.