Absinthe is a strong alcoholic drink (typically between 50-75% alcohol) produced from the extract of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), fennel and anise. The herbs are left to infuse in strong alcohol, afterwards the liquid is distilled. Depending on the wanted flavour different types of herbs (usually between 10-15 varieties of herbs) is added which also (because of the green leaves) bring out the green colour and thereby the intoxicating drink gets its nickname “the green fairy”. The history goes that absinth was invented in Switzerland by a French doctor who claimed that it had medical benefits. French soldiers would often be given the strong drink as a protection towards diseases. But as time passed by they began to notice that the “medicine” probably wasn’t as healthy as they first assumed, sure it could cure a flu in a couple of hours but even worse in some cases it was believed that absinthe could cause brain damage, and it was therefore banned in Switzerland and a number of other countries, but not in Spain, they kept producing the liquor.
Barcelona is forever intertwined with Absinthe- the green spirit that supposedly carries hallucinogenic properties. Absinthe is a unique centuries-old drink that has experienced a revival since many of the bans on the cocktail in Europe have been raised. In Catalonia, the drink has continued as a low-key part of its culture. In Barcelona, absinthe bars have been open since the 19th century. Given absinthe’s storied past, absinthe bars draw crowds as tourist attractions. But don’t get us wrong, many of the bars are authentic and serve the real deal. Here are a couple of the most famous absinthe bars in Barcelona we think you should checkout:
Marsella is probably the most famous absinthe bar in Barcelona! Amoung the oldest bars in the city, Marsella have been serving Absinthe for almost 200 years. The decor gives away the bars true age- antique chandeliers hang from the ceiling and detailed wood trimmings cover the bar area and walls. A glass of absinthe, a sugar cube, and a bottle of water should net you 5€. Have too many of those puppies, and you may start to see Marsella’s famous past regular- Ernest Hemingway.
This cozy bar is packed with old trinkets, and you will immediately notice the gaint ferry mannequin on the ceiling! The low-lighting gives the bar a unique feel. Absenta Bar serves 20 different variations of absinthe, just don’t try them all at once! The absinthe bar is in Barceloneta and is an easy walk from the marina or beach.
Located at the end of Las Ramblas toward the Christopher Columbus monument, Bar Patís is a tiny bar with charm. With odd assortments of decoration everywhere, the place is never dull. They have had a candle burning on the bar for five years that has grown into a colorful heaping tower of wax. And of course, they serve absinthe. Enjoy a drink while being entertained by scheduled performances on the small corner stage.
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Not to be confused with the other Absenta bar (Absenta is Absinthe in Catalan), Bar Absenta is also located in El Raval. If you haven’t passed by in a while, this absinthe bar is for you! The drinks are among the cheapest in the city. Beer can be had for a single euro and absinthe will set you back 4€.
Not sure how to drink absinthe? It’s easy – the bartender will pour you the alcohol and give you a fork, sugar cubes and a bottle of water with a hole in it. You places the fork over the rim of the glass and balance the sugar cubes on the prongs. Then you pour the water over the top until the sugar dissolves into the absinthe. This is to give it its distinct flavour and to water it down a little so you don’t, ya know, die.
Any other absinthe bars in Barcelona you recommend? Let us know below.