Bar Tab: Boadas, Barcelona

Nick Carraway doesn’t spend any time describing the bar rooms of West Egg, preferring to do his drinking on his neighbour’s lawn, or at the brass-railed bar in the main hall. If he had, perhaps he would have conjured up the image that greeted the two bar-crawling guests who shouldered their way into Boadas on a recent Thursday evening. Over at the bar, it seems Jay himself is holding court – all cream linen, pale pastels and penny loafers, his Daisy in a level of evening wear that far surpasses the more touristy outfits ranged along the opposite wall. For this is ‘Barcelona’s oldest cocktail bar’, an icon of El Raval’s red-lit past – having served drinks to Hemingway, Picasso and Loren – and it must (one is forced to assume from the accented hubbub) feature in every American guide to the city. Behind the bar, some of Gatsby’s erstwhile guests stare down from a mural – barflies and gadflies of Boadas and Barcelona’s storied history, or so they would like us to believe. The sneer of old-old money, or just old faces at new. Look closely and you may just spot your own 1930s simulacrum looking askance, pipe in mouth, at the cads in the corner. In between, the barmen – now depicting a considerably younger average age – shake and yes, throw some but not all the cocktails. The list appears untouched since the thirties – Daiquiri 1933, Cosmo 1934, Southside and Adonis flow from tin to tin, but new owner Simone Carporale has deemed such agitation as detrimental to the “sacred” Boadas Martini. Their outfits may not be up to Gatsby’s standard – Daisy will not be driven to tears over the beauty of these shirts – but she’ll still find this varnished counter – that could tell a tale or two of its own, no doubt, a fine spot to waste the most poignant moments of night and life. (Carrer dels Tallers, 1, Barcelona, @boadascocktails). Read more Bar Tabs here.