Dry, the best cocktail bar in San Sebastian
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
San Sebastian has no lack of great bars to choose from, spilling out into the charming alleyways of the Old Town from seemingly every other doorway. Whether you're after sangria, some great Spanish red wine, a chilled beer or a glass of txakoli - the quintessential sparkling white wine native to the Basque Country - San Sebastian has you sorted.
And as for cocktails, there are tons of great places to chill out with your favourite libation. When it comes to high-end watering holes though, there really is only one choice - the Dry Bar by Javier de las Muelas (he of Dry Martini fame - the Barcelona speakeasy which is a permanent fixture on the World's Best Bars list).
And so on a Thursday evening after yet another delicious pintxo meal, as the evening is winding down, we decide to grab a little night cap before calling it a night ourselves.
There is only 1 other table taken when we arrive in the bar. 2 chicly dressed Spanish women are in what appears to be a deep conversation, heads together over a bottle of wine. We make ourselves comfortable a few tables down as the barman walks over with the menus.
The Dry Bar is a plush space, in what is possibly San Sebastian's most luxurious hotel - the Maria Cristina. The ambiance is high-gloss 1920's glamour and sophistication,
the black-and-white photographs contributing to the sense of nostalgia.
As for the cocktails, in what is true Dry Martini style, the cocktails aim to be sensory experiences rather than simply drinks, the visuals and aromas contributing to the overall impression.
On the menu there are plenty of the well-trodden cocktail classics to tempt us. But the list of creative Signature Cocktails just looks too interesting to pass by, and we both make our selection from there.
Julien opts for the 'Lost in Translation', a beautiful botanical affair, both in the flowery teaware in which it is presented and the edible flowers drifting in the top of the cup.
I give it a try, and it is a masterful combination of ice cold sake and smooth whiskey, combined with a hint of tea and just a touch of citrus. Absolute perfection!
As for me, I'm tempted by the 'Brokeback Mountain'. It is a cocktail with a heart of whiskey and a coffee soul. The taste is not a million miles from an espresso martini I guess, but with bells on! It comes served in a copper mug so chilled it must have come out of the freezer just moments before, ice cubes bobbing in the drink, droplets of condensation glistening on the sides.
And it is similarly impeccable! On the side is a second cup of delicious foamy frothiness to be either ladled into the cocktail or simply spooned straight into the mouth.
And accompanied with some cocoa-covered chocolate truffles, which we share contentedly.
There are many things that contribute to making a great cocktail bar. But surely one of the essentials is that they do great cocktails. And so take it from 2 consummate cocktail consumers - the Dry Bar does that in spades!