Leaving work and unwinding, or – and this essentially amounts to the same thing – enjoying a nice cocktail, beer, wine or vermouth along with something tasty to eat is what the ‘after work experience’ is all about. Make a note of these addresses and end the day with a well-deserved treat.
You’ll love Barbara Ann for the background music, with the best rock and roll and pop of all time (and that’s not just a catchy slogan for a radio ad); for its decoration and different atmospheres; for its tasty and outstanding food (the oxtail bao buns, the tacos, the pizzetas and the salmon sashimi with wasabi ice cream and seaweed wakame are delicious); and, above all, for the fabulous cocktails made by Bryan Norman. This new establishment in the Las Salesas neighbourhood, located at number 8 Calle Santa Teresa, invites you to enjoy the evening as well as the night (it’s open until three in the morning). Its name is the title of a classic Beach Boys’ song that’s cheery, catchy and makes you want to get up and dance, which is something that happens from midnight on when the lights are dimmed and the classiest, most entertaining side of Barbara Ann shows its face, with a neon background that begs: Let’s dance!
The secret to the place’s magic lies in its decoration. Divided into two floors and zones, it boasts a spacious bar with tall chairs for a quick and relaxed bite to eat, an area with low tables and a long velvet Chesterfield over which hang photos of rock and pop icons like David Bowie, and another bar where the cocktail team puts on a unique show. Let yourself be guided by Bryan’s recommendations and try the Queen, the house cocktail; the Tiki, his favourite, which in one fell swoop will transport you to the southern seas; or one of his new creations … they’re all amazing.
At the Only You Boutique Hotel Madrid (Barquillo, 21) you’ll be able to choose the atmosphere and style that most appeals for your after work experience. The place couldn’t be more visually appealing. It’s located in a former 19th-century mansion and its interior design, created by Lázaro Rosa Violán, features thousands of little details and different styles. One of the most original is El Padrino, at one time a neighbourhood bookshop called Padrino which occupied the ground floor of the building. The shopfront, the sign and some book-lined shelves have been preserved.
Now it’s a gastrobar that’s strongly reminiscent of a tavern, with the finest Iberian pork products, wines, cheeses, craft beers and preserves. It offers a selection of light food on Tuesdays in true Italian style – Dolce Martedi (from 7pm to 10pm) – with a mini-buffet featuring Bologna mortadella, grissini breadsticks, truffle omelette, Milano salami, several vermouths and Aperol Spritz: one part Aperol, two parts cava and an orange wedge on the rocks. If you prefer a nice mixed drink in a laid-back setting, at the British-style Cocktail Bar or the colonial Mediterranean-style Lounge you’ll find just what you’re looking for.
Puerta de Alcalá opened its doors just a few weeks ago and it’s quite literally right in front of one of Madrid’s most emblematic monuments. Views of Puerta de Alcalá gate, El Retiro Park and the constant bustle of Madrid can be enjoyed from the terrace (with parasols and heaters to make the most of any weather), which boasts an enviable location. It’s open from breakfast to dinner, and every drink comes with a tapa that’s chosen to suit that particular moment: Galician shrimp or anchovies in summer; tapas made from stews in the winter. It has a dining room that can hold 50 diners as well as a private room downstairs, and next to the main bar there’s another tapas bar that has a strawberry tree in the middle of it. The kitchen is helmed by Rafael Vaquero, and for the after work experience you can try some very intriguing nibbles such as the octopus pizza, the oxtail croquettes or the carpaccio, and burgers made from meat from La Finca cattle farm, with a side of Galician potatoes and Padrón or Gernika peppers.
In the evening the bar is the most popular spot for after work drinks, with a carefully selected wine list that offers some real gems by the glass, as well as champagne, but the best thing to do is to describe your tastes to Alberto Rodríguez and let him surprise you with one of his cocktail creations (€10, €12 and €15): the Cosmopolitan Alcalá, with a hint of violet; the Pasión de Alcalá, with vodka and passion fruit adorned with edible flower petals; and the Green Velvet, a long shot of gin with a healthy twist in the form of fruits like kiwi, green apple and cucumber. There’s a nice selection of bourbon and rum, and if you want to try something different and 100% Madrid in origin, ask for Monti gin, which is Made in Madrid.
Another recent arrival to Barrio de Salamanca is Hermosos y Malditos (the Beautiful and the Damned), which breathes life into the lobby of the Totem Hotel (Hermosilla, 23). “Beautiful” is an apt description of the restaurant area, while “damned” is a term that could jokingly be applied to the cocktail bar and the incredibly comfortable armchairs where guests can sit back and enjoy a nice mixed drink along with various snack food options. Behind this accursed bar is Fran Camino, who has let his imagination run wild to put together a menu overflowing with signature cocktails that join the most classic of drinks –Manhattan, Cosmopolitan, Gimlet – and all priced at €10. When evening falls the place takes on an atmosphere that begs customers to make the most of the night, with a lineup of DJs featuring the best names on today’s scene.
If you like cheese – if you’re a true cheese lover – then this is the after work option for you. Tablafina is located in the NH Madrid Nacional Hotel, a stone’s throw from Atocha station on Paseo del Prado. Inside you’ll find one of the finest selections of cheese in Madrid, created by the brilliant David Valverde, head waiter and cheese expert at the Santceloni restaurant (with two Michelin stars) and consultant for the chain’s other hotels.
A good plan would be to sample a platter featuring seven different varieties (some of which have been purchased at auctions) along with some very special wines or beers, handpicked by Santceloni sommelier David Robledo. You’ll see some excellent sausages hanging behind the bar and you’ll also find the finest preserves. As for the establishment’s snack food options and tapas creations, I recommend you try the original calamari sandwich.
Another enticing plan is to meet up and discover the new cocktails designed by master barman Javier de las Muelas at the Dry Martini Bar in the Gran Meliá Fénix Hotel (Hermosilla, 2), next to Plaza de Colón. You can choose from four different settings: the Coffee Corner, the Bar, the Cuatro Estaciones lounge and the Terrace. The Bar’s 10-metre-long bar is nothing short of impressive. It serves the most classic of cocktails (you have to try the authentic De las Muelas Dry Martini; an electronic scoreboard keeps track of how many are served) as well as the very latest creations. For the autumn they’ve just launched a series of five mixed drinks inspired by seasonal aromas like pumpkin, chestnuts, honey, truffles, berries and edible flowers. Two also come in a non-alcoholic version: Otoñal and Rainy Days.