On Calle Pau Claris in Barcelona, there is a small restaurant called Bar Mut.
As you arrive – fashionably late – on a Saturday night you are escorted into the vestibule of the next-door apartment building and told to wait quietly. An older man with thinning hair sits at his sentry in a tobacco-stained grey flannel. He is there to make sure you keep quiet. After several minutes of silence, the manager reappears at the base of a metal staircase and beckons you to follow up two tightly winding flights of stairs to a nondescript grey door.
Inside, down a long red-walled hallway, is the speakeasy at Bar Mut and it is packed. The manager ushers you into a tight corner against one of the converted apartments’ windows explaining you have one hour at the table before the next reservation arrives. Packed into the slim space between the bar and the window you glance up at the highest shelf and see the spirit you’ve been searching for: gin.
In Spain, they are mad for gintonics!
(The ‘g’ in gin is pronounced like a ‘y’ and the two words come out of your mouth as one) and local bars carry gin lists whose depths compete with most restaurant wine list. The selection at Bar Mut is no exception. Across the entire length of the bar, is a selection of three bottles deep; selections most have only read about and never seen, and plenty of familiar labels too.
In essence, the Spanish gintonic is a cocktail and not a cocktail all at once.
Gin is the primary building block, of which there are four major styles; London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, and Genever. The secondary ingredient is tonic – we recommend forgoing the basic options and opting for a small batch brand like Fever Tree, Thistle or Q Tonic. But the real genius of the Spanish gintonic is the use of botanicals. Each drink highlights a specific botanical from the base gin. The gin is poured and then the fresh botanical added to it. The bartender lets it steep like tea (you do not infuse these gins in advance, you only want the flavors to mingle in the glass) for two minutes and then adds one large ice cube and slowly pours in the tonic. The gintonic is as refreshing as its popular namesake but with added layers of complexity from the simple highlighting of a botanical.
At Boqueria, a different gintonic graces the menu every season; black berries and lime provide a tart reprieve in the hot summer months; early winter blues are ushered away with bright grapefruit and wild blackberries; spring is ushered in with lemon and a sprig of fresh basil.
We look forward to serving you a taste of the tradition Spain has been sipping for years!