World's Best Bars
October 26, 2003 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Of All The Gin Joints In All The Towns In All The World, (You) Walk Into Mine: In Lisbon, it would have to be Lux for fun or The Ritz for serious drinking. But in all the towns in all the world, only Harry's Bar in Venice, despite the carping, would do. Listen to Hemingway! (More inside.)
posted by MiguelCardoso (12 comments total)
He knew his drinks and bars: La Floridita and the Bodeguita del Medio in Havana; The Palace Hotel Bar in Madrid; the Café Deux Magots in Paris... But his favourite haunt, quite rightly, was the original Harry's Bar, where they still serve his creation, the Montgomery: 15 parts almost frozen gin to one part (if at all...) of dry white vermouth. Not to mention the best sandwiches known to humanity. Heaven!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:26 PM on October 26, 2003

One more argument for ending the ludicrous Cuban embargo:

In memory of the countless hours the Nobel-Prize winning novelist and legendary drinker spent at the Floridita bar, a life-sized statue was placed on Friday (25.10.2003) at the corner of the bar where Papa Hemingway always stood for a few drinks.

"We want him to be here forever, where he best liked it, in his favorite place at the bar," said Katiuska Criado, a spokeswoman for the bar, which first opened in 1817.(...)

The barmen at the Floridita will pay tribute to the writer everyday by placing a daiquiri by the statue served just the way he liked it: white rum, lime juice, sugar, crushed ice and a drop of maraschino, whipped up in the blender.

"One usually places flowers next to statues, but Hemingway will get a daiquiri a day. He would have liked that," said the sculptor.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:31 PM on October 26, 2003

heh, the old Nectarine ballroom made it in.

spelled Ann Arbor wrong but hey.
posted by clavdivs at 9:06 PM on October 26, 2003

and you forgot this place
posted by clavdivs at 9:13 PM on October 26, 2003

] remove extra characters at beginning of previous link [
posted by mischief at 9:32 PM on October 26, 2003

Hemingway must have just staggered home from a night at Harry's Bar when he wrote this, my favorite of his poems:
The ship, she doth pitch
Like a son of a bitch
How else could he have found the inspiration to so aptly describe the effects of a storm-tossed sea?
posted by Hildago at 9:57 PM on October 26, 2003

Miguel, the Palace hotel bar is too easy a choice in a city like Madrid. Hey, the bar at the Ritz is probably even more exclusive, and the one at the Villamagna is ... naughtier?

Hard decisions. As far as classics are concerned, Chicote was the way to go, but it has been changed to oblivion in recent years. Fortunately, its former "reservado" (reserved space, go figure...) has long been converted in what is easily one of Madrid "best known secrets", the Cock Bar. It's easy to miss (you have to knock on a huge door that seems anything but a bar entrance) and relatively hard to get into (they will not even acknowledge that they are behind the said door if need be). But once you're in, anything goes (and it would not be elegant or wise for me to get into more detail, but believe me, anything goes).

It is better to get to Cock after midnight, when it is also harder to get in. In the meantime you can also recreate the non-jet-setters drink experience of the time period that Hemingway spent in the city by visiting La Venencia.

Isn't Venice's chronic lack of nightlife the main reason behind Harry's Bar success?
posted by magullo at 7:52 AM on October 27, 2003

Hey, thanks magullo! I'll be in Madrid next month and will definitely be giving Cock a try. I'll report back.

I've never been at the Villamagna, though it's owned by Portuguese now, but when I've stayed at the Ritz (those lovely light linen sheets) I've always shunned their bar (not "cocktaily" enough for me) and made off for the Palace Bar. The hotel is not nearly as good, but the bar is wonderful.

Excuse the name-dropping, but I once spent an evening and a night there, drinking Bloody Marys with Leonard Cohen, a hero of mine. So that clinched it for me. Every time I read that small Lorca poem they have near the bar counter, I hear Cohen's voice translating it.

P.S. I love Chicote's book, La Ley Mojada (?)!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:21 PM on October 27, 2003

More on Miguel's magic moment with Leonard Cohen here; a y2karl fantasy of a Cardoso/Cohen conversation here (featuring the leading question "Do you have large, bulging black muscles?").
posted by languagehat at 12:33 PM on October 27, 2003

Hey, small world - Lenny is also one of my heroes. He used to hang out at my mom's bar in Ibiza. Okay, I'm lying, but only a little bit.

Anyway - since you are going to be in Madrid, I wanted to suggest again that you also pay a visit to La Venencia. Neither of you two Palace bar fellows would feel in the least uncomfortable there. To that end, here is a tip: the only beverages they serve are the 5 types of Jerez wine: fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso and palo cortado. And despite what my link above says, no caviar. It's a 10 minute walk from Cock, but be aware that it is an evening place (ideal for before dinner).

One extra reason to visit La Venencia is that a few doors down the same street is another truly unique bar: "Los Claveles". If you haven't been there before, ask anyone at La Venencia and they'll point it out to you. Walk straight in, grab a drink and (only then) lift your gaze to the walls. I believe it will be quite an experience, specially for a Portuguese sensibility.
posted by magullo at 1:23 PM on October 27, 2003

Wow, thanks magullo for the generous tips, which I will follow scrupulously - nay, religiously!

This May I spent a week in tiny Sanlucar de Barrameda (and Jerez de la Frontera too) - I was there for the feria - with the sole purpose of sampling the manzanillas, of which I've been a fan almost all my life. They serve cute half-bottles of all the main brands and the manzanillas are really young, as they should be drunk.

I had a great time - but probably drank too much manzanilla as, when we went on to Jerez, I found even the finos too heavy...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:59 PM on October 27, 2003

You barflies sound as if you'd like some Pernod Scallops.
posted by emf at 3:10 AM on October 28, 2003

« Older Bzzzt   |   What is old is new again, unfortunately Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments