Barcelona’s Best Bars for a Night Out

Cleverly crafted cocktails||© Quickcapture/Flickr
Cleverly crafted cocktails||© Quickcapture/Flickr
Photo of Tara Jessop
17 October 2017

In a city where nightclubs don’t start to get busy until at least 2am, knowing where to go for a drink beforehand is essential. While cafés and daytime restaurants shut after dinnertime, most bars are open until 2am or 3am at weekends – you just need to know which ones will show you a good time.

Betty Ford's

Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Map View

Located slap bang in the middle of the bustling Carrer Joaquin Costa – the heart of El Raval nightlife – Betty Ford’s is a guaranteed good time. Popular with skaters, hipsters and average Joes, the bar serves reasonably priced drinks with a smile and a bit of banter. There’s a projector beaming nineties classic onto the wall, which only adds to the aura of coolness pervading the place. The fact that it’s one of the last places to shut on the street makes it the de facto gathering point for anyone looking to party late.

Ocaña

Nightclub, Bar, Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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Apotheke bar
Apotheke bar | Courtesy of Ocaña Barcelona

A café, cocktail bar, restaurant and club all wrapped into one gorgeously designed locale right in the middle of Barcelona’s historic Plaça Reial – that’s what makes Ocaña one of the rare places locals will set foot in within such close proximity to the Ramblas. The cocktails at Apotheke come with an oriental twist courtesy of mixologist Mario Greenfield and the bar feels like something from the set of a modern day Arabian Nights. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink if you’re heading to Moog, Macarena or Marula Cafeé afterwards.

Bobby Gin

Cocktail Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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Gin & Tonic | © juantiagues /Flickr

Widely reputed as one of the best places for a gin and tonic in the city, Bobby Gin is packed every weekend evening, when locals come to top up on their favourite after-dinner drink. Forget the tumbler glass and slice of lemon your grandmother used to drink, these G&Ts come in larger-than life chalices garnished with various combinations of spice, fruit and other treats while managing to remain incredibly moreish.

Marula Café

Music Venue, $$$
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Musician Jan Harbeck © Peder Sterll
Musician Jan Harbeck | © Peder Sterll / Flickr

Don’t be fooled by the name, Marula Café will not be serving you any coffee. Located in the Gothic Quarter, it’s halfway between a nightclub and a late-night bar with great live music. The program of gigs is one of the most diverse in Barcelona, with indie music, latin, funk and hip-hop performances throughout the week and weekend. Not the kind of place to go if you’re looking for a quiet corner from which to cradle a cocktail or two, but definitely the place if you want to get the party started before midnight.

El Paradiso

Cocktail Bar, Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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Inside El Paradiso
© El Paradiso

Basically Barcelona’s worst kept secret, El Paradiso is a stylish cocktail bar hiding behind the wall of hole-in-the-wall pastrami bar in El Born (which is definitely worth eating at beforehand or, better yet, on the way out). Have a wink and a word with the guy hovering in the corner in an oddly bouncer-like manner and you should be in the back in no time. There you’ll find a sophisticated lounge-bar with trendy twenty-somethings sipping on quirky cocktails in pineapple-shaped glasses courtesy of one of Spain’s top mixologists.

El Ciclista

Cocktail Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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Mojito l © Janine/Flickr
Mojito | © Janine / Flickr

This quirky concept bar located in the ever-bohemian Gràcia neighbourhood is a local gem with a floor to ceiling cycling theme. Wheel spokes have been turned into tables and lamps and bike handles into door knobs at El Ciclista – no part of the cycle goes unused. It’s also a serious cocktail bar with some sip-worthy house cocktails and plays the kind of music which will keep you there until late – which is why it’s regularly packed until 3am.

Boca Chica

Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Map View

Uptown and upmarket, Boca Grande is the kind of place you go to be seen. A sophisticated restaurant designed by acclaimed Catalan designer Lazaro Rosa-Violán, the venue harbours an exclusive cocktail bar – Boca Chica – serving a wide range of creative cocktails, including a tea-infused G&T that was voted best in Spain in 2014.