After the relaxing part of our holiday in Moraira, we made the long drive back up to Madrid for 3 days of culture and exploring. Having never been to Madrid I wasn’t really sure what to expect, thankfully Hubby loves a bit of research so knew exactly what we needed to see.
As this is not a travel blog, I’m not going to go into all the details of where we went and what we saw, however, if you have never been to Madrid you simply must go. It is an utterly AMAZING city which is well worth a visit.
Many bars, restaurants and food markets around Madrid had signs or sandwich boards out with long lists of their gin selections. Others just had shelves of the stuff inside. There was most definitely enough variety to keep any gin lover topped up until their journey home.
Whilst doing some sight seeing one day, we walked past a shop whose window was full of miniatures, as luck would have it, the gin was located at my exact eye level. There were so many…SO MANY MINIATURES! It would seem that I was so excited I forgot to take a picture, but believe me, there were loads. I asked Hubby if we could come back later to buy some, he paused, then reminded me of the Malfy incident in South Africa. An incident which still haunts us to this day…
We were in a liquor store in Johannesburg, having a general peruse and being wowed by the ridiculously low prices, when Hubby spotted a bottle of Malfy Gin. Those of you who don’t know Malfy need to acquaint yourselves very quickly. It’s an Italian gin which is distilled with lemons; fresh, zesty, refreshing and definitely entitled to a place in your gin collections. Anyway as I was saying, Hubby spotted a bottle of Malfy and with some quick maths, we realised it was £13…I’m sorry what? That can’t be right? £13 for a bottle of Malfy? Internet currency converter consulted and it was no lie, our quick maths was correct…£13 for a bottle of Malfy! We were in a rush and there was a queue, so we decided to come back before our Krueger trip to by a bottle. Only the return trip to the liquor store never happened, and we missed out on our £13 bottle of Malfy. Did I mention it was only £13? We vowed never to miss these opportunities again.
…I didn’t need to be told twice, went straight into the shop and showed great restraint, only buying three giniatures at a total cost of €7.50, bargain. I opted for the very British Bulldog gin, which includes, amongst other botanicals poppy, lotus leaves and dragon eye…yup, you heard right, dragon eye! Who wouldn’t want to try a gin which is made using dragon eye? I also chose the Spanish Larios Rosé, which infuses strawberry with it’s usual fresh, citrus flavour and finally Puerto de Indias, a gin which is heavily citrus based, combining lemon peel, orange, grapefruit, lime and coriander. Looking back now I still have regret, I should have spent a good old round €10 and bought the Puerto de Indias Strawberry too. It uses strawberries from the Huelva region in Andalusia, which are apparently the best strawberries of their kind in the whole of Europe. Ah well…I’m sure I can source some from home, gin that is, not the special strawberries.
When looking through our Madrid guide book, I had found a bar called Gin Club. For obvious reasons I was desperate to go and when we got there I was ridiculously excited! The Gin Club is located downstairs in El Mercado de la Reina, dimly lit with a generous bar area and several other small tables, the atmosphere was cosy and intimate. While upstairs was a buzz of activity, downstairs was far quieter, and aside from a group of ladies who popped in and out without ordering a drink and one other couple, I was the only customer. I’m guessing this was because we were there fairly early in the evening and more patrons would be filtering down later. Hubby stayed upstairs to order us some food, while I got a little snap happy downstairs ordering some drinks. Their gin selection was extensive and varied, they definitely had something for everyone and their cocktail menu looked awesome. It was definitely cocktail o’clock!
I ordered one of my favourites, a Gin Julep and Hubby opted for a Tom Collins. While our cocktails were being made, I spent time taking in my surroundings and trying to work out which gin I was going to have next! The barmaid seemed quite tentative and not overly confident when making the cocktails, but this didn’t worry me, I was pleased that she was taking her time, surely this would mean fabulous cocktails! Drinks in hand, along with a little pot of jelly beans, I headed back upstairs. Unfortunately we had been told that we couldn’t have our tapas in the Gin Bar so the plan was to eat and drink these cocktails, then head back down for some more.
Seriously excited now, I’d held off even trying mine until Hubby and I could have a little cheers. “Go on, try some of mine…” I said to Hubby before he had even tasted his…“it’s one of my favourites and you haven’t tasted it, so have a try!” His face was a picture, and not the picture I was expecting. I quickly stole my cocktail back and tried it, I understood his face. It really didn’t taste like a Gin Julep. He then sampled his own Tom Collins, which received a similar facial expression.
I don’t know what went wrong? After reading so many positive reviews about the place, I’m sure that our experience was just a fluke. We didn’t take our chances on a second cocktail, if I’m being perfectly honest I felt a little let down, I’d been gushing and raving about this place and the cocktails just didn’t quite hit the mark. Perhaps that’s why the barmaid was so tentative and the Gin Club area was so empty. On a more positive note, the food was great and as I say, the gin selection was awesome. We didn’t hang around for another drink, we didn’t find our waitress particularly warm or welcoming and there were so many other bars serving great varieties of gin that we decided to cut our losses and move on.
Although our experience wasn’t the best, I think it is still somewhere for gin lovers to visit if exploring Madrid, surely so many great reviews can’t all be wrong?
There were a couple of places which I really loved and would highly recommend for gin, the first is La Fiebre, which had a great selection of gins and other spirits. It even had a really cute little gin cabinet, filled with empty gin bottles, garnishes and special gin glasses. The atmosphere in there was great and the staff were friendly and welcoming.
The second is Tapassentao, a lovely tapas bar which offers a great selection of vegetarian dishes…their cheese churros are insane! They had roughly 20 gins on their menu, but what I loved about this place was the table service. The waiter brought the glasses, garnishes, gin bottle, tonics and measure outside to our table before pouring our drinks, which we got at Happy Hour prices. The staff here were amazing and Hubby was extra excited because he saw some famous footballer walk past!
With our three days in Madrid done, it was time to head home. BA provided some excellent reading material in the form of the Fever Tree pairing wheel which I found in their magazine. I was pleased to discover that I had already been using some Fever Tree suggested serves and I’m excited to try some pairings which I hadn’t already thought of. Of course, there are no right or wrong answers, but this is certainly a great guide.
I hope you have all had wonderful summers and am very jealous if you are currently looking forward to going away, have safe travels and loads of fun. Definitely need to start planning our next one.