One for the Road; The Bourdain of Booze.

That title may be pretentious but I’m a sucker for alliteration like most drunk poets (I’m looking at you Seamus Heaney). After a not-so-dry January, I’ve decided to take a look back at my long and wonderful love affair with alcohol.

My first drink was probably a drop of J&B on the gums as a teething baby. Although not Irish but Italian, no one puts grappa on a kid’s gums because that would be insane. Whiskey is the correct drink for a baby, this is a well known and documented fact. My real career in drinking began like most in college at UCSB (U Can Study Buzzed was thrown around often), where I was an avid reader of Hemingway because I loved the idea of making a living by writing drunk, boxing, and travelling the world. My drink of choice was a Rusty Nail, the drink my father called his favorite, a man who to this day claims he has never been intoxicated, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen him drunk. That said a Rusty Nail for me is 2 parts Scotch Whiskey to 1 part Drambuie and not to be messed with unless properly trained. I remember going to the legendary ancient jazz dive Arthur’s Tavern in NYC when I was 22 and asked the salty waitress for one. She paused giving me a hard look over and said plainly “you’re too young for a Rusty Nail, I’ll bring you a rum and coke” and proceeded to do so. Pure NYC.

a young, and perhaps sober Roberto, heading for Italy at 17.

From humble beginnings beautiful booze has brought me as many fond memories as it has clouded. I remember 50 cent giant cold Touborg beers on the veranda of a 16c. villa turned youth hostel just outside of Florence, falling in love with an Australian girl named Eva Toussaint. My parents, both airline employees, and Eva, just being an Australian, made a career of being a professional backpacker at very early ages, and like two international jet setters that didnt have two dimes to rub together between them, we would meet up in far-off places around the world in a blink of an eye for a shot and kanpai. Eventually I would move to Brisbane to be with her, fall in love deeper, be introduced to the true Dark and Stormy while watching the State of Origin on the tele, and ask her to marry me, all because of a cold Tuborg beer in Florence.

Unfortunately I was just turning 22. Man, writing that makes me laugh.

The proposal didn’t work out, I had to go back to the states and finish my degree and become a human. I left, heartbroken, unsure if I did the right thing, and confused about the future. Obviously I made a beeline for my local; Tom Bergan’s, the only real Irish bar in all of Los Angeles.

Tom Bergin’s was hallowed ground. It’s where I would go after a grueling day of work and school. My friends would pour in and we’d drink Guinness and Jameson all night, and when “Sweet Caroline” would come on the juke we would all pound the bar “Da Da Da, good times never seemed so good SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD” like a drunk soccer chant (is there any other?). After 2 A.M. they would do a “lock in” with the regulars, and I would smoke cigs while my best friends Dave Hanson would talk about the plays he was writing (and later become a fantastic playwright) and Chris Sullivan would talk about the parts he would want to play (and become a famous actor) and I would talk about the places I wanted to go. We sat under the South-West corner of the U-shaped bar, beneath three green shamrocks cut out of a Mickey’s case of beer that had each of our names on it; a badge you were awarded if you were a true regular, and not easy to earn.

It was in Tom Bergin’s that my life would change forever over a drink.

I was there, crestfallen from recently breaking up with the first true love when I heard over the already rowdy bar the distinct intonation of an Australian. It’s an accent that is immediately recognized anywhere in the world, like the sound of a leaf blower or a glass breaking in a restaurant. In my semi-sauced state I saddled up to this nearly 7 foot lanky Aussie and made fast friends, as I knew I would with anyone from the great Oz, presumably to tell him of my woes and tales of love lost. Predictably our conversation turned to drinking at which point I made a startling discovery.

“You never had an Irish Car Bomb?”

There are few accolades I take true relish in. One is having a film in the permanent collection at the MoMA. Two is meeting Anthony Bourdain. Three is teaching an Australian something about drinking.

Jimmy the barkeep was always listening and without having to ask two half filled pints of Guinness and a shot of ice cold Baileys slid before us. We dropped our shots in the pints and opened our gullets to let the elixir slide down our throats. I can’t say it’s a drink I enjoy often, but I’m always amazed how much it taste like cake to me. Justin, the Australian, must have enjoyed it too because he never forgot this interaction, which would end up making my dreams come true.

A few years later I get an email from my long lost drinking buddy Justin saying that he runs a travel magazine in Australia, and remembers me telling him (somehow) that I was a writer and traveller. He was wondering if I would be interested in writing a local piece about NYC (where I was living at the time) for the mag. Boy was I.

I had never written an actual travel piece before but it came pretty naturally, especially about NYC a town I knew better than most others. Justin thought I was a natural and immediately started offering me other assignments. First hitting up random destinations like Memphis and Miami, then much more exotic ones like Peru and the Canadian Arctic. I have discovered rooftop Jellyfish Bars in Manila, elite speakeasies under the Little Nell in Aspen, and had muktuk shooters at the Northernmost Stripclub in the world. I have been writing with Get Lost Magazine for over a decade and have experienced some of the worlds most sublime adventures because of it, exploring the frozen North-West passage while sipping cold Corona’s in the hot tub on the deck a Russian Research (spy) ship. Drinking chicha (spit beer) along the Inca Trail while staying at the world’s most luxurious hike in lodges in the world, or a fermented ayahuasca drink in the Peruvian rainforest while studying Macaw parrots at the Tambopata Research Center. I’ve learned the secrets of distilling the northernmost whiskey in the world in Iceland (hint: it’s made with sheep dung). I’ve sailed to the illusive Marquesas islands in French Polynesia on a half cargo-half-luxury-liner named the Aranui and got tattooed by a chief in the bay where Melville wrote “Typee” while sipping warm champagne. I’ve eaten in the 3rd greatest restaurant in the world, Central, an elevation dining experience, and the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin, serving suckling pig for 500 years. I’ve done all of this because of a drink in a bar with a friend and never forget that.

Booze has intoxicated me more then just physically in my life and I would have it no other way. So here is a moment to look back at some of the finer moments I happened to document were a good drink has made magic happen.

3A.M. Shanghai Bar Tattoos

You know any video with me screaming “LET’S GET TATTOOS!” as I drinking snake infused baijui at 3 A.M. in a very dimly lit back alley Shanghai bar has to top a list somewhere.

Belgium is the Beer Capital of the World

Most every country makes a form of beer, from Makgeolli in Korea to Kvass in Russia, but in Belgium people’s viens run with barley and they bleed Lambics.

5 Oldest Bars in NYC

Good history only makes drinking better. NYC is rife with watering holes that precede the countries formation, and which is the oldest is seriously debated. One day in June I decided to get to the bottom of the debate and visit each one to hear first hand who could claim the crown.

Making 2000 year old Roman Vermouth.

Ancient history also only makes drinking better. During the pandemic with some time on my hands, my friend and I attempted to faithfully reproduce a 2000 year old recipe for vermouth found in one of the oldest cookbook in recorded history. All I can say is we didn’t go blind.

Booze is Better on a Boat.

Amsterdam might be best known for its smokable delights, but for me it was it’s rose colored ambrosia that stole my heart. Boat culture is something that many travellers overlook when exploring Amsterdam, which is a shame, because there is nothing more fun than cruising the canals with chilled rosé making new friends.

New Orleans

It’s hard not to think of drinking when you hear New Orleans, and for good reason because the streets run with rum down there. Fortunately I was with a Bywater local that showed me all the back alley spots locals wet their whistles at, letting me go full Bourdain in one of my favorite love letters to an amazing drink-centric city.

Spain Loves Monday Nights

Barcelona and Madrid both hold special places in my heart. Barcelona’s dolce far niente (or I guess dulce hace nada?) attitude rivals Madrid’s deep tradition of good living (they do have one of the best, and oldest, restaurants in the world). They also love a good party, and choose Monday as their day to let loose. Between Madrid’s “Fucking Monday” and Barcelona’s “Nasty Monday” it’s hard to choose where to be hung over on Tuesday (Hint: it’s Barcelona;)

Berlin is more than Brews

You know by now I’m a big fan of beer, but what I really like is finding the unusual, and if you can have a drink when you find it, all the better. So while travelling in Berlin we decided to scope out the more hidden gems, like a bar that serves drinks in a ketchup bottle, a bar that hasn’t been closed a day in over 40 years, and a parking-lot-bar-art-gallery that boasts the best view of the city.

Boston’s 5 Best Breweries

5 is a magic number for beers it seems, so when WOW airlines (remember WOW?) chose my friend and I to be travel ambassadors, the first exotic location they sent us was … Boston. I joke but Boston is one of my favorite towns, and if you even remotely like beer, you gonna love Boston, so we curated a brewery tour that took us to our favorite places and learn every variety the beer-centric Boston has to offer.

Jakarta’s Illusive Smokey Negroni

It’s usually pretty easy to find a drink anywhere I go in the world, save for one place: Jakarta. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, which means no demand for alcohol (which is largely illegal), so to find a bar, let along a booze temple that boasts a magical smoky Negroni, was a very unique find indeed and required on the spot documentation.

Edinburgh’s Scotch Malt Whiskey Society

In Leith, on the waterfront of Edinburgh, if you are fortunate enough to meet someone that is a member of “the secret vaults of the Scotch Malt Whiskey society”, you might be asked inside, and if you ever so gently ask to interview their caskmaster, he might be willing to talk casually over a delicious dram. Lotsa maybe’s went into this. (on a side note, I have to add in Flokí, the Northernmost whiskey distillery I visited in Iceland, who flavors their mash the old style, that being, with sheep dung. It’s … impressive)

Liquor in LA

Let’s get one thing straight. The greatest bar ever to grace Los Angeles is Tom Bergin’s. That said I would never make that information public on a YouTube video. I would offer three more elaborate pics to show off the flair and pageantry LA is known for. A stripmall speakeasy, a NYC dive in WeHo, and a rooftop looker should do the trick.

The Brewhaha

Lastly, a blast from the past, and one of my first videos I ever made. Back when craft beer culture began to explode I thought it would be a great idea to make a beer variety show called The Brewhaha. It had beer news, skits, some history, contents, and a reference to the Snooki on the Jersey Show (this was like over 10 years ago, give me a break). I produced, shot, and cut together a pilot episode, and learned a lot about beer in the process that I have a hard time remembering.

The Brewhaha – Sizzle


The Brewhaha – Pilot

This has been so much fun to write, I don’t even know how to put it in words. I’m lucky I made films of some of these experience, to keep the memories sharp and the colors vibrant in my mind. Alcohol has provided so many interesting experiences in my life, from professional ones like doing commercials for Belvedere, Absolut, and Guinness, to drinking parking lot “tuba” wine in Mindanao and driving from LA to Hyder, Alaska in a straight shot, only to get “hyderized” at a bar and drive back (I failed that midterm). It was never about getting drunk, it was always about learning and connecting with people and places through something that is rather universal. There are so many styles, techniques, and varieties of drink out there that stretch back to the beginning of human culture, and is such a part of the human existence.

So nice to look back at a life well drunk, and here’s to the next round. Here are some pics … each has a special story … all have a drink to go with them. Salute!

>> Roberto Serrini is a travel journalist and filmmaker for Get Lost Magazine. He has explored the world making hundreds of video you can watch on his YouTube Travelclast channel, and works professionally as a commercial director when not out getting lost.

Ultimate Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner & Tapas Guide Barcelona 2019.

Where to eat in Barcelona? We’ll guide you through the best, from breakfast at La Esquina, Brunch at Citizen, Lunch at Faborit, Tapas at Bar Mut, St. Josep Market, Dinner at El Nacional or La Malandrina and of course the world famous Canete.

Breakfast: La Esquina
What to eat: Juevos rancheros, fresh green juice and world class coffee
http://laesquinabarcelona.com/en/
Address: Carrer de Bergara, 2, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 937 68 72 42

 

Brunch: Citizen
What to eat: Eggs Benedict, fresh green juice and world class coffee
https://citizencafe.es/
Address: Plaça d’Urquinaona, 4, 08010 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 933 15 59 61

 

Lunch: Faborit
What to eat: Fresh salad and hot chocolate cheat treat
https://www.faborit.com/
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 41, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 934 67 36 43

Tapas: Bar Mut
What to eat: Anything (but the pulpo if they have it)
http://www.barmut.com/
Address: Carrer de Pau Claris, 192, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 932 17 43 38

Lunch: Mercat/Boqueria St. Josep
What to eat: Everything. Jamon Iberico, fresh fruit, chocolates, cheeses, you name it.
http://www.boqueria.barcelona/home
Address: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

 

Dinner: El Nacional
What to eat: Oysters at the bar with cold vino verde
https://www.elnacionalbcn.com/en/
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 935 18 50 53

Dinner: La Malandrina
What to eat: Meat. In every variety. Grilled.
https://www.lamalandrina.es/
Address: Carrer de Pepe Rubianes, 5, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 603 62 19 39

Dinner: Bar Canete
What to eat: Whatever the waiter wants to serve you. Bring stretchy pants.
http://www.barcanete.com/
Address: Carrer de la Unió, 17, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 932 70 34 58

 

 

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Ultimate Barcelona Museum Guide 2019

The Barcelona Cathedral, the MEAM museum of contemporary art, Fundacio Joan Miro museum, Castell Montjuic, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Guell palace, La Pedrera, and La Sagrada Familia are all in Barcelona and should not be missed. This is a city full of fantastic museums and architecture that can be a bit overwhelming but fortunately we did the legwork so you can see what you want to see for yourself.

The Barcelona Cathedral is home of the patron saint of the city Eulalia, who at age 13 was paraded without clothes down the street in summer by the Romans, at which point a freak snow storm hit the city and covered up her bare body. The Romans unfortunately were not wowed by this and put her in a barrel full of knives and rolled her down the street. Despite this horrific tale, the Cathedral still stands as one of the most beautiful places in the city to visit. Dont forget to hit up the back and see the 13 sacred geese.

Next check out the MEAM museum of contemporary art. This museum is an absolute gem that gets missed by a lot of tourists. The exhibits rotate but are always the latest in great art, and will definitely widen your eyes.

The Miro Foundation is located in a beautiful park above the city, and holds a rare collection of the famous artists more colorful pieces, including some breathtaking tapestries that we didn’t even know existed. Even more rare is a semi hidden fountain the artist created using real mercury as the fluid. It is the only one of its kind, and is kept behind a glass sealed room as the liquid metal is highly poisonous, but also extremely beautiful.

Castell Montjuic is a beautiful fort truly atop one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. From here you can get a 360 panoramic view of this city by the sea, as well as learn about the termutouslous military history of this ancient city.

The work of Gaudi can be seen up and down Passeig de Gracia but the most famous is La Pedrera AKA Casa Mila. On first sight it becomes clear why this still occupied apartment complex is one of the great symbols of Barcelona. It is one of Gaudi’s greatest works, fully showing the functional relationship between nature and construction. Definitely take a tour where you can pass through an apartment as it was at the turn of the century, and check the calendar as they throw lots of great music and night events year round.

Finally, La Sagrada Familia is by far the most well known attraction in Barcelona and for good reason. Nothing comes close to walking through the doors of this singularly unique cathedral that is still being finished to this day. Spires rocket toward the sky looking like it dripped from heaven, and inside you are bathed in a rainbow of bright colors from the immense ornate stained glass walls. More space ship then house of worship, La Sagrada is not to be missed.

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The greatest Party in Barcelona (or the world)

Barcelona knows how to party, and while it is a full time job to find the best bars and nightlife in Barcelona, we did the best our livers could support. From Bar Sauvage in El Born, to classy piano joints like Casa Fuster, this town gets up to get down.

That said, nothing, absolutely nothing will prepare you for NASTY MONDAYS at the Apolo. Monday night this place absolutely shakes from night to morning with the largest, most riotous, fun, and crazy dance party we’ve ever seen. This multi-leveled club is packed but still finds room for you to dance your ass off, being fueled by the Club Savage party people onstage. A killer, super hot DJ spins the absolute best bangers for hours, while, get this, a bar, onstage, makes rum drinks to just pour down peoples mouths. Yeah. You just stand up at the front, watch the badass mixologists do their thing, and then open your mouth to receive your boozy prize.

This is nightlife like only Barcelona can do it, where no one cares who you are or where you are from, they only care if you are having a good time, and dancing your ass off. And this is a MONDAY NIGHT. Well let you fill in what the rest of the week is like in this lovely party town. Thanks Nasty Friends.

Custom handmade Espadrille shoes in BARCELONA

This world famous Espadrille shoe shop makes custom handmade shoes to fit any style or desire you might have. A landmark since 1978, most everyone from hard working beach bums to the rich and famous have had a pair of shoes made by these master craftsfolk making sure their tootsies tiptoed in style.

You can find this shop on Carrer d’Avinyó in the heart of the city, and even if you dont buy a pair, stop in to watch them work, it’s a beautiful thing.

Home


Address: Carrer d’Avinyó, 7, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 933 01 01 72

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Best Wine Bar in Barcelona – La Graciosa

The wine runs deep through the streets of Barcelona, where there are more wine bars then Starbucks (thankfully), so finding the best can be a daunting choice. Frankly, it’s hard to find one that will not intoxicate you with charm, quality, and variety, but when we wanna pop a cork, there is no other place then La Graciosa in Vila de Grácia Barcelona.

What makes this place so exceptional is well beyond the prolific abundance of fantastic natural wines on display, beyond the cavernous but cozy interior, or the open air patio where impromptu paella sessions are known to happen. It’s the lovely proprietaros who curate this beautiful bodega of nectars, who will bring you through an epic journey glass by glass.

In a city where tourism runs rampant through the streets, and most places have difficulty keeping up with the demand, La Graciosa gracefully keeps pace, giving every wandering soul who ventures in caring attention, and a unique personal experience that makes you feel like you know the owners from grade school. The feeling wine gives you inside is what they surround you in atmosphere, which is why you may walk out with more than a new favorite bottle of vino, but a new best friend as well.

Carrer de Milà i Fontanals, 88, 08012 Barcelona, Spain
C536+56 Barcelona, Spain
+34 936 63 79 97

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BEST Tapas in Barcelona 2019 – Bar Canete!

Barcelona is a city built upon small bites of food, that come on pretty plates with little toothpicks stuck in them. In fact the name “Barcelona” come from “Barce Lo Na” which means “Stick with Food” (this is absolutely not true) so you better believe when it comes to Tapas, there is your fair share to choose from.

While We can give you a hot top five places on where to get your nibble on, there is one pace that takes the cake, and it is the infamous Cañete Tapas Restaurant in the sexy El Raval section of the city.

As soon as you walk through the door you are accosted by the flavor of this joint, that permeates everything including the amazing staff. Bold flavors wrapped in delicate packages come flooding to your table almost like an avalanche, each dish more audacious then the next, as are the brash waiters would love to break your huevos.

If you come to Cañete we recommend you come hungry for both amazing food, and insane service, bring your appetite and your sense of humor.

Carrer de la Unió, 17, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
95HF+M7 Barcelona, Spain
barcanete.com
+34 932 70 34 58

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Stay the FUCK OUT OF BARCELONA.

OF all the places we went, Barcelona, by far WAS THE WORST.

What a horrible place, full of narly Spanish people, all their food was fried in oil that tasted like hair cream, and the city, wow, I mean overrun by crime, and just a horrible horrible place. We couldn’t get out of their fast enough.

Bottom line, DO NOT GO TO BARCELONA. PLEASE. STAY AWAY. DO NOT GO.

Thanks.

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Barcelona Mi Amor.

So… when is Spain, Right? Was on the world tour with Nike and was able to spend 18 hours in the fantastic city of Barcelona, so basically I saw the hotel, and got to eat one great meal.

The hotel was the hotel@icaria.bcn – yep. I stayed at an email address. See:
icara outsideI believe the hotel is called the SB Icaria, but staying at an email address is so much more 2015.

The hotel is nice. It’s like staying at a drug dealer’s mansion in 1982, sans the high hipped bikini clad coke whores, and the drugs. So I guess its not much like that at all, maybe its the red laqueresque details that threw me for a loop. The lobby is spacious, they have a sweet little bar in the back that you can Cava yourself to death at, and the rooms are clean and modern, and super comfy. They also have C.O. Bigelow products which I found super cool as I used to live above them on 6th avenue (they’re like a super old school pharmacy, er, apothecary. Like you can still get health tonics and cocaine drops).

Dumping my gear I made a B-Line (more like an “i” line, eh Dane Cook?) to dinner cause I had heard about Bar Mut from about everyone that I told I was in Barcelona. Convo went like this:

Me: Hey, I’m in Barcelona.
everyonelse: Oh cool. You going to Bar Mut?

Pretty much like that. And it didn’t disappoint. I mean, the joint is perfectly Barcelonian meaning they don’t give a shit in a way that makes you feel free, the food is simple and exquisite, and you drink as much as you can sweat. It is a dark, compact, sexy little space that does pretty much everything right, and if you have one thing you have the polpo as if I had to tell you that. If you’re suuuuuuper nice and ask suuuuuuper cool they might even tell you how they make their marinade. After hearing how you will either love it more, or love it a lot less. As for me, the stranger the better.

Of course after a full belly of delicious Spanish morsels and gallons of Rioja, its best to head across the street and throw some pesos in the casino, then stumble into the Stinger The Bar (as opposed to Stinger The Musician) to have, well, a Stinger, which is a drink that time forgot and shouldn’t have. Besides Angel’s Share in NYC this joint makes them perrrrrrfect.

2015-02-09 20.56.48-2

By now, we are well loose. A quick triptych with photographer Billy Kidd and it’s definitely a wrap. Oh Barcelona, we were lovers for just a few hours, but you get it done cause you know exactly what you are doing. SWAK.