You may have tasted it in a Late Night London bar, but it’s not quite the same… Barcelona-based bloggers Iris and Rocinta give us the lowdown on the best places to sample Cava in the Catalan capital.
‘Cava’ is Catalonia’s very own take on France’s Champagne, a fruity, sparkly, sophisticated treat made with methods stolen from Spain’s Northern neighbour in the 19th Century. The homeland of Cava is the Penedès region, located approximately 40km southwest of Barcelona. The region is surrounded by rough and rocky elevation of Montserrat, and enjoys an ideal climate for wine-making.
In Spain a toast isn’t a toast without Cava, and so naturally during holidays, especially Christmas Eve (La Noche Buena) and New Year’s Eve (La Noche Vieja) the refreshing sparkling wine is particularly popular. However the fun-loving residents of Barcelona don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a glass of bubbly, and year round they can be found tucking into a glass at ‘Xampanyerias’ or ‘Champagne Bars’ dotted around the city. Find our guide to the best Cava bars in Barcelona below and if you find yourself in town, it’s well worth dropping by one to sample the authentic, bustling atmosphere of Catalans at play. Do like most young Catalan do and grab a quick bite and a glass before hitting the clubs. A traditional Cava bar will close at 10 or 11pm, so make sure you are in before 8pm to find some coveted personal space and enjoy your tipple accompanied by a ´bocadillo´(Insider’s-tip: Cava without tapas is as inconceivable as Barcelona without La Sagrada Familia, the two simply belong together! Often these tapas will take the form of bocadillos, small and tasty sandwiches).
1. Xampañería Can Paixano
Hidden in the small streets of Barcelona lies the authentic and very traditional Cava bar, La Champagneria – one you should definitely not miss when visiting Barcelona. When it comes to the cheapest Cava and the tastiest tapas, Can Paixano leads the pack. The first thing you notice when you step into the bar is the dynamic atmosphere created by international clientele and their international conversations; you will have to really force yourself through the crowd of locals, students and tourists to get a drink. When you do finally reach your destination – the heaving bar, your next task will be to actually order a drink – this will require plenty of hugely exaggerated hand gestures! The Cava here is excellent and combined with an array of tasty food. For example the Ruby Red Cava is served with bocadillos, which are rolls stuffed with Serrano ham, fish or, mouthwatering-freshly cooked sausages and steaks from the grill. Once you have ordered some of this delicious food you can go ahead and keep ordering more and more glasses of Ruby Red. (They won’t serve you Cava without food!). The adventure is not over yet… being squeezed and squashed is part of the experience but now with a glass of pink sparkling wine in one hand and a big meat and melted cheese sandwich in the other, finding a spot to enjoy it all provides yet another challenge. A great place to meet up with some friends, get in the perfect party mood and disappear off to experience the vibrant nightlife of Barcelona.
C/De la Reina Cristina 7
2. El Xampanyet
El Xampanyet is another shrine to Spanish champagne, with a great ambiance, superb Cavas, simple yet delicious tapas and unbeatable service. For those of you looking for a trendy, classy place, this is not it. This is a chaotic, exciting, bustling but above all traditional place filled with an urbane crowd of locals and tourists who are enjoying Catalonian delights in their purest sense! The ceramic tiles and the bona fide Modernista décor give El Xampanyet the seal of authenticity. Do it like the locals do and order a butifarra (Catalan sausage) on a crusty roll and wash it down with some Cava. Or the peppers stuffed with cream cheese, the sardines, fresh anchovies or the Iberian ham. Meanwhile your glass is automatically refilled each time it is empty. Ordering food is very simple just step to the counter and tell the barmen what you want (or simply point if you can’t speak Spanish). At the end of the night, the waiter will call your name out and it’s time to pay up. As the Picasso Museum is just along the same street, this could be the perfect place to discuss the Spanish artist’s early works afterwards.
3. La Vinya del Senyor
Located in a small square in front of the Santa Maria del Mar church, La Vinya del Senyor, is a specialist wine-bar which also boasts excellent Cava. The walls are lined with over 300 wines, many chosen as the perfect complement to the bar’s various tapas dishes, which include some top-quality cheeses, hams or cured beef. Although the bar itself is relatively small, there are plenty of seats outside where you can enjoy the view of the church, a wonderful example of the Mediterranean Gothic style with a memorable rose-shaped stained glass window. If you’re looking for a more relaxed way to enjoy a glass of bubbly, La Vinya del Senyor is definitely one of the best spots to enjoy a chilled glass of Cava and watch the world go by.
Placa Santa Maria 5
This Cava restaurant doesn’t offer you just a delicious dish accompanied by a fresh glass of Cava, but it also gives you a splendid view of Barceloneta beach. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Barceloneta and treat yourself on the finest Cava in this seaside neighbourhood. You can choose from four different Cavas, including Freixenet Vintage Reserve and Augusti Torello Reserva, or for something sweeter try a Cava rosado (pink Cava). And for something even more refreshing try the house specialty, ‘Sangria de Cava’! Sangria is a wine punch typical of Spain, with chopped or slices fruit, mostly orange, lemon, apple and pineapple, sugar and ice. On a warm summer night, Cavamar’s terrace is the amongst the best places in Barcelona to enjoy a meal, while sipping Cava and watching the waves roll in.
C/Vila Joiosa 52
5. Clos Montblanc
Just off the Passeig de Gracia, one block away from Gaudi’s Casa Mila, lies the wine bar Clos Montblanc. The bar of the winery by the same name, the winery itself is located in Barberà de la Conca, very close to two symbolic locations in the history of Catalonia: the fortified town of Montblanc and the Monastery of Poblet. The wine bar is a good place for a quick sip after some sightseeing, or to pick up a gift, such as a bottle de Montblanc Cava Brut Rosat (€6). Glasses of Cava are served with complimentary small dishes, such as olives.
C/Pau Claris 169