Shaken, Not Stirred in Madrid

Food & Drink

Those passing through the capital soon didn’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy Chicote’s co

There are several stories that relate to the magic and sensual world of cocktails. Perhaps the best known is the infamous tipple made famous by secret agent, James Bond, with his favourite cocktail: a dry Martini. Shaken, not stirred of course…

No less well known are the mojitos and daiquiris that the indefatigable Ernest Hemingway drank in the Bodeguita del Medio, in Old Havana. While, iconic movie starts like Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly, Bette Davis, Sophia Loren, Lana Turner, Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra have more than just a star on the Walk of Fame in LA in common…

All of them have passed through Chicote, not only one of the most famous cocktail bars in Madrid, but all of Europe in the 30, 40 and 50s - the golden age of cocktails. Indeed, they have sat at this popular venue in Gran Vía Street and quaffed Chicote´s cocktails.

Chicote was not only a master mixing cocktails and creating drinks, he was also great at public relations, which helped attract the international roster of artists who descended onto Spain drawn by the exotic allure of bullfights, flamenco and Spanish passion. Those passing through the capital soon didn’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy Chicote’s cocktails.

But when speaking of cocktails in Madrid, there is perhaps another standout venue which is largely unknown to the public, but perhaps loaded with a greater dose of adventure and exoticism. This venue is Embassy. Founded in 1931, at the same time as Chicote, Margaret Kearney Taylor opened Embsasy. This marked a radical change in the old Spanish customs where people used to drink only wine and chocolate; indeed, we have a lot to thank Miss Taylor for as she popularised the Champagne cocktail...

At the end of the Spanish Civil War when the II World War began, Spain remained neutral in the conflict, allowing the coexistence of the diplomatic and German allies.  Embassy was the venue both allies and Nazis came to in search of rumors and information that allow them to have some advantage in the conduct of war. While serving pastries, cakes and cocktails to the diplomatic corps of both sides, the basement of the establishment was filled with refugees who crossed the Pyrenees border trying to escape from the Nazi horror waiting to be assigned to a specific and safe destination. In the basement of Embassy they were fed, provided with clothing and able to rest until they could be sent to other countries. Embassy is said to have given shelter to more than 30,000 refugees.

The venue has been closed several times, accused of being a spy nest and an illegal shelter.

If we jump forward in time to today there is a special place around the Gran Vía Street, where you can still see Chicote and where you can find the largest and best offer of cocktails in Europe. In just one block several cocktails temples are concentrated: Chicote, De Diego, Le Cock, GinClub, and the latest Susan, Lola Club and Unami. 

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Here are just some of their famous cocktails you can enjoy:

Dry Martini: Gin and French vermouth
Mojitos: Peppermint, havana3, lemon, sugar, bitters and sparkling water
Cosmopolitan: Vodka, Cranberry, Triple Sec, Lima
Gin & Tonic: Gin, tonic, lime and lemon
Bloody Mary: Vodka, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Tabasco and lemon
Daiquiri: Havana 3, lemon and sugar (banana, peach, pineapple)