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When Bartenders Talk - José Antonio Femenía

Joan Miro and George Orwell could often be found downing cocktails at the atmospheric Boadas in Barcelona, Spain - what does its current bartender have to say about the place where bartenders drink?

Boadas is an old-school, authentic cocktail bar, steeped in history and paused in time. Situated on a quiet side road, steps away from the frenetic pace of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, it's been going strong for over eighty years.

The tobacco stained walls are dotted with photographic memorabilia archiving the history of the bar and its bartenders. The original owner, Miguel Boadas, learned his trade in Havana, Cuba, returning to Barcelona and opening his bar in 1933. Over the years it's hosted drinkers as famous as Joan Miro and George Orwell. Its current bartender, José Antonio Femenía, began working there when he was just 14-years-old.


A spread from Where Bartenders Drink
A spread from Where Bartenders Drink

José is one of the high profile contributors to Where Bartenders Drink. In it, the best 300 expert drink-makers share their secrets - 750 places spread across 60 countries - revealing where they go for a drink throughout the world when they're off-duty. Venues range from late-night establishments and legendary hotel bars to cosy neighbourhood 'locals' - often in some very surprising locales.

The 750 expert recommendations come with insightful reviews, key information, specially commissioned maps, and an easy-to-navigate geographical organization. Written and compiled by the native New Yorker Adrienne Stillman, the co-founder, editor-in-chief, and event director of Dipsology, a curated digital guide and online community for cocktail enthusiasts, it's pretty much the only guide you need to ensure that you get the best drinks in the most memorable global locations.

Over the past few weeks we've been interviewing some of the bartenders in it. Today we're talking with José.


A spread from Where Bartenders Drink
A spread from Where Bartenders Drink


Where are you from and and how did you get into this line of work?  I was born in Barcelona and started bartending when I was 14-years-old, at the very same place where I am still working today, at Boadas Cocktail Bar, in Barcelona. The toughest bit of my job is the physical wear. Long hours standing up behind the bar, too many repetitive movements, year after year... all these affect your feet, your legs blood circulation, your shoulders, elbows!

What's the one thing about being a bartender that would surprise people?  One thing that most people do not know about our job is how many hours it takes setting up the bar before opening and clearing up, after closing. To be able to offer a good service to customers you need to work quite a few hours on top of the bar opening hours.

What's your favourite cocktail to make and why do you like making it?  I do not really have one favourite cocktail, but I love all cocktails prepared in the mixing glass. At Boadas, we use a famous technique called 'throwing' to make these cocktails. It is very spectacular and people love it!


Where Bartenders Drink
Where Bartenders Drink

Do cocktails go in and out of fashion? Yes, they do. Some cocktails are fashionable for a while and then they may become out of fashion and simply vanish. However, classic cocktails have always been there and will always be. Rather than fashion, I prefer to talk about trends. The next trend that seems to be coming up is the use of fresh seasonal ingredients, combined with the preparation of homemade fresh juices and other homemade ingredients, in front of the client.

What do you do when you’re not mixing? All my life revolves around mixology. I am also the owner of an online cocktail tools and equipment shop, which takes quite a bit of my 'free time'. Apart from that, I enjoy spending my time travelling, cooking and reading.

Check out Where Bartenders Drink in the store and check back in the coming days for another interview with one of its star mixologists.