Centro Bars & Nightlife
Calle de la Reina, 16, Centro
Opened in 1921 (and astonishingly, consistently open throughout the Civil War), Bar Cock is one of the oldest in the city. In the '70s, it was famously a hangout for Madrid's creatives, and today, if you can get past the name, it's a perfectly cozy place to tuck into a gin cocktail surrounded by dim lighting and a generally chill vibe. It never gets too rowdy here, making it the ideal meeting spot for old friends and for having the kind of mellow conversation you can enjoy without yelling.
Bocadillo de Jamon y Champan
Calle Fernando VI, 21, Centro
The decor at this quaint little spot off Parque de El Retiro is refreshingly bright, with clean white subway tiles, white walls, and brass chandeliers over the bar. There's also something undeniably appealing about the concept of drinking delicate champagne (their list is outstanding) alongside straightforward ham sandwiches. While the airy feel makes it a lovely lunch destination, it's equally fun in the evenings.
Calle de la Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 17, Centro
Malasaña has been a neighborhood on the rise for a while now, due in large part to the presence of hybrid operations like Kikekeller. Part retail store, part art gallery, part bar, it's buzzing from early in the morning until late into the night. Owners Kike and Celia are constantly changing around the shop, bringing new offerings into the retail space, rearranging the furniture, and switching out the art exhibitions, so no two visits are the same.
Calle del Espíritu Santo, 9, Centro
This hipster little bar is cluttered with vintage furniture (each table is surrounded by eclectic, mismatched chairs) set in front of a backdrop of '60s-style wallpaper. They actually serve food and cocktails all day, but we like it best for drinks in the evening, when the relaxed vibe lends itself nicely to snuggling up on one of the cozy leather couches in the back. It can get a little crowded after dinner, so be prepared to wait if you arrive late.
Tartan Roof Bar
Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes, Calle de Alcalá, 42, Centro
This rooftop bar is actually located on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes (the Fine Arts Building)—visitors without a dinner reservation can pay a three-Euro cover charge to travel up to the top, a fee that's more than worth it for the opportunity to see the panoramic views of the city. We like it for drinks around sunset or during the day when the built-in spritzers keep the whole patio cool and pleasant.
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