Meet Barcelona's three bars in the world's top 10
Paradiso, Sips, and Two Schmucks drive Catalan city to become international capital of cocktails
The World's 50 Best Bars named three establishments in Barcelona among the world's top 10 in early October in a ceremony that also took place in the city. Paradiso, Sips, and Two Schmucks all ranked better in 2022 compared to 2021, even pushing Paradiso to the title of World's Best Bar.
This was the first time the ceremony took place in the Catalan capital after changing between New York and London. It was also the first time a bar not from the American or English cities was named as the world's number one.
The rankings for Paradiso (1st), Sips (3rd), and Two Schmucks (7th) were voted on by 650 bar industry experts worldwide. Each cast seven votes based on their time at the bars.
There are no nominations and bars cannot apply to be on the list, it is all based on the voters' experiences, and it seems industry experts enjoyed their time in Barcelona a lot, as Two Schmucks went from 11th to 7th position, Sips jumped from 37th to 3rd; and Paradiso climbed from 3rd to 1st.
7th Best Bar in the World - Two Schmucks
Called the "five-star dive bar," Two Schmucks is very different from a regular posh cocktail bar. The place can fit up to 50 people and is located on Joaquín Costa street, in the Raval neighborhood. Their goal is for everyone to feel at home.
"The idea behind Two Schmucks is to be like a neighborhood cocktail bar," Pom Modeste, the bar manager, says to Catalan News.
"When you get into the bar, you could be anywhere. It's not really like a typical bar in Barcelona, but it's not Paris, it's not London, or New York either. It's somewhere else. It kind of looks like something you visited before, so you feel just comfortable," she adds.
When preparing the menu, its international team is inspired by their own experiences in crafting new flavors, but they always try to have a ginger beer around, as they say people love it.
Two Schmucks see one trends of the Catalan capital's cocktail culture as a 'highball' drinking style, combining alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. But, the world's 7th best bar of course has amazing signature drinks which will delight and surprise customers.
One of them is the 'Melon Cheese Pepper', an orangy-colored drink made with gin, vermouth, and rockmelon, all finished with a foam made out of mozzarella and sprinkled with black pepper. Despite climbing into the top ten in the world at number 7, the pressure to continue surprising its customers has not changed.
It is true that now they have a queue in front of the bar every night, as they do not accept reservations, but acclaim was never the ambition when opening the bar.
"We never thought we would get this high position in the ranking ever. We are super happy, and we are not opening every day for the award, it is because it is something we believe in," the bar manager Pom Modeste tells Catalan News.
"This job is the kind of one that you do with passion," she concludes.
3rd Best Bar in the World - Sips
Sips is a "drinkery house" rather than a more upmarket-sounding "cocktail bar." Located at Carrer Muntaner, 108, in the Eixample neighborhood, this bar does away with pretensions and brings together quality creative tastes and sleek sophisticated design.
The place is run by two of the most well-known bartenders in their sector Marc Álvarez and Simone Caporale.
"Our main idea was to be the most democratic bar in the world because we don't have a proper bar counter, we have an island where two bartenders work together, one in front of the other, it's not very common to see in a bar," co-owner Álvarez tells Catalan News during an interview at the bar following the awards ceremony.
In fact, this island is one of the most important design aspects, as customers can see the bartender from all tables while enjoying signature cocktails or classics with a 'Sips twist'.
The small bar features round marble tables with a classy golden-colored finish, and low, comfortable charis for its guests, surrounded by a carefully chosen cosmopolitan color scheme of predominantly dark greens and greys.
Ordering a drink at Sips is almost like visiting a contemporary art gallery. The glassware is fascinatingly conceptual, with all pieces designed by artisan glassblower Ferran Collado. The unique menu is complemented with striking glasses, such as KRYPTA, a cocktail served in something resembling a giant Easter egg presented in a stand, with three holes near the top of it for herbs to be inserted which enhances the aromas of the drink.
"When we drink, at the same time we always smell," Marc Àlvarez explains to Catalan News. "So the idea is that your nose is giving information about aromas at the same time that your tongue is also giving aromas to your brain. So you have a double stimulation, you have a double connection."
Another glass that stands out is Primordial – a drink served in a pair of hands, reminding us that probably the first way humans ever drank any liquid was from rivers or lakes with their hands.
As for the drinks themselves, Sips takes a deep dive to the molecular level to craft the perfect blend of tastes. "We can find something for you that fits with your palette," Álvarez explains, before adding: "We are getting close to the chefs or gastronomy," with the level of minute detail going into each drink.
Order a Compressed and you'll be drinking a peach in two ways at the same time. Before this drink reaches your lips, a peach is put in a centrifuge with some pectic acid added. This flavored water is used to dilute the cocktail, but the fruit itself, packed with concentrated flavor, is then compressed into something like a cracker which accompanies the beverage.
Sips, which was given another award for the highest climbers in the World's 50 Best ranking when leaping from 37th to 3rd, is one of the leaders in the next cocktail revolution. The world is moving toward a more culinary approach with new techniques and technologies being used, and this bar is at the forefront of this new wave of cocktail culture with bags of experience.
In fact, their next project, expected to open during autumn 2022 has been named 'Essència'. The idea is to have a new area in their bar completely focused on avant-garde conceptual drinks that allow them to experiment even further.
Best Bar in the World - Paradiso
Curious cocktail lovers could end up waiting up to three hours to get into Paradiso, the best bar in the world, according to The World's 50 Best Bars.
They do not take reservations and with the name visible from the street above what looks like a pastrami deli, the queue outside makes passersby wonder what is going on. To enter this clandestine speakeasy, you have to go through a fridge door rather than a normal one.
Located in the Born neighborhood, at Carrer de Rera Palau, 4, this bar can welcome around 70 people, but they can only get in while accompanied by the maître.
The first thing you see is a large space with a 7-meter-long bar counter to the right and several tables at the end of the room. Paradiso is inspired by the Catalan modernisme architectural style, some may even compare it to the interior of a whale.
The team is comprised of around 40 people, "from the team at the lab, the team preparing every morning the bar, and obviously, around 10 to 13 of us working during the shift," Gianluca Basso, preparations and purchasing manager at Paradiso, tells Catalan News.
Basso recalls the awards ceremony, calling the moment his bar was named best in the world "incredible." But what is more important for bartenders is for customers to enjoy and have fun as it is the cocktails but also the experiences that clients will remember.
"It is also thanks to the guests that we are in this position," Basso said, before explaining that they interact with the customers as they explain the story behind each cocktail.
Drinks that are made using "the classic techniques to create or to mix a cocktail," but also beverages made under their "particular technique that no one did before," he adds.
All the experiences are part of a unique menu that Paradiso works on for a year. The team started working on its current menu last December and launched it this October. Titled 'Evolution of Humankind,' the menu pays homage to humanity's greatest developments and feats.
"We got inspiration from all the inventions, all the moments, that changed our lives in terms of everything, for example, the wheel, the agriculture… They change our way to live," the bartender tells Catalan News.
Presentation is another key aspect for the best bars in the world.
The drinks in Paradiso are served in very special glasses, such as one remembering the invention of the wheel, a toy train people can drink out of, or the first steps taken by a man on the moon. In this case, people will drink a red-colored liquid from a white inverted cone on top of what resembles Apolo's 11 Lunar Module Eagle.
Among some of its classics: 'The Cloud' and the 'Supercool Martini' with a small mound of ice being formed straight in the customer's glass right in front of their eyes.
Barcelona, an international cocktail city
Hosting the World's 50 Best Bars award ceremony in Barcelona came as no surprise to bartenders Catalan News spoke to.
The city has been recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic hiatus, and tourists have returned to the Catalan capital.
One of the conditions to vote for a bar is to have been to the establishment and everyone wants to visit Barcelona.
"The city is amazing because there are a lot of things to do. After spending your day at the beach or at the mountain, visiting museums, you can enjoy your night in a lot of bars that offer very different possibilities," Gianluca Basso, from Paradiso, said.
Something that the team at Two Schmucks agrees on as everyone wants to visit Barcelona, and if you go to the city, you will go to the bars that everyone in the industry talks about.
The differences between the three recognized bars are very notable, but it is not only the drinks and the atmosphere it is also the "hospitality," Basso said.
"Everyone that comes from outside of Barcelona, has to feel like at home. This is one of the shared goals among all these bars," he added.
Bartenders believe that in the future, more and more bars from Barcelona will be listed in the World's 50 Best Bars, as the city is becoming a "cultural history capital," in Europe.