An artistic space where many of Barcelona’s best bartenders go to drink cocktails
That’s an impressive back shelf!” I blurted upon propping myself up at the bar. “Yes, we like to collect,” replied Fernando, smiling knowingly to himself.
Located on a low-key street in the Born barrio, this tiny, red and green-lit space is festooned with vibrant works of art: watercolors of debonair lions and tawny foxes chasing each other’s tails. A flight of stairs leads to a cosy mezzanine level resplendent with antique sofas and wooden cabinets stuffed with crystal glasses and books with titles like Where Bartenders Drink. It’s what I imagine Prince Phillip’s man-cave in Buckingham Palace to look like.
“It was difficult to find the right pieces,” Fernando explained after I congratulated him on creating such a sumptuous space. “We had to go to the Encants Market very early every weekend and negotiate to get good prices. And now we have to change it. This furniture wasn’t made to be in a bar, you know.” Personally, I think he should leave it exactly as it is.
The action, however, happens on the ground floor, where Fernando and his team indulge their passion for mixology. Whether perfecting the classics or creating combinations of their own, these guys are serious about what they do.
I like to be led away from making the same choices over and over again so I asked for a recommendation.
“You like anything in particular? Bitter? Sweet? Rum? Whisky…”
“Bitter. And rum sounds good.”
Fernando froze for five seconds, his eyes flicking through a mental rolodex of options that would fit the bill. He snapped back to life, grabbing bottles from the shelf and gracefully pouring the liquids from one cup to another in long, arching streams over his head. A quick taste test with a straw and it was all mine.
It was amber and golden and I drank it in tiny sips, reveling in the silkiness and satisfying bitter finish. Fernando made another for himself and we chatted a little more over the bar.
“It’s very easy to drink,” I said, unaware that my legs were slowly turning to stone.
“Yes, it is. But it’s got quite a lot of alcohol,” he warned.
“Do you do food?” I asked.
“We did. But we realised that most people come here to drink. So, we don’t do it anymore.”
“And what time are you open until?”
“It depends, but around 2.30/3.00am. Mondays are actually our hardest nights because the bartenders from other bars come here after work to have a drink. Eixample, around Aribau and streets like that, is the ‘classic cocktail’ area, but Born is the new place for cocktails.”
Collage is a tribute to the joys of mixology, a stylish place where you can indulge and geek out over your cocktail without feeling pretentious. As Fernando explained to me, “It’s not easy, this world. You really have to love it.” And that’s what makes all the difference.
By Ben Holbrook http://www.driftwoodjournals.com
Collage Cocktail BarCarrer dels Consellers, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Area: El Born
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 7.30pm – 2.30am. Sun 7.30pm – 12.00am
Phone: +34 931 79 37 85