The Takeaway: The bartenders take the mainstage at this pharmacy-themed cocktail bar. Bottles of homemade tinctures and infusions line the walls, as the apron-donning bartenders zig-zag between a hybrid speed-pour/measuring approach and throw cocktails at long distances. We found the cocktails innovative, but two out of the four were left unfinished.
Entering the bright red doors of Dr. Stravinsky from the medieval narrow streets of Barcelona, you instantly feel transported to an underground den of hip revolutionaries that clandestinely meet to debate on the next political movement. Rather than the standard familiar bottles of Johnny Walker or Hendrick’s gin, the walls are a sea of carbon copy bottles, each labeled with a moustached fellow, presumably the doctor.
Each person that is ushered in is asked a simple question: “Have you been here?” If not, they introduced you first to their philosophy before they set you loose upon the menu: no artificial ingredients – everything made from scratch, including their shrubs, tonic waters, infusions, and Kombucha.
The first page of their menu made me yip with delight. Anything geeky appeals to me greatly, and the menu at the time of our visit (late November 2019) was a “cosmos” themed ones, with various planets representing different flavor profiles. How far along a drink was along the intersecting orbital lines between planets gives you a visual on its flavor.
I spent a while looking at the index, but ended up flipping through the menu and reading each cocktail rather than using their index. There were a lot of planets (perhaps if it were pared down to 5 or so), and I did not have a good feel on whether I preferred “dry” or “bitter” or “smoked”, each of which had its own planet.
Our first choices were Trotamundo (gin Roku macerated with rooibos tea, tumeric mead, lime cordial and Martini bitter – and topped with thick coconut shavings that looked like a flower) and Angel Share (foie gras fat washed Bulleit bourbon, PX sherry, and bitter orange marmalade). The first was very good (maybe a tad too sweet and the coconut started to dominate toward the end) and the second tasted like a well-balanced sweet and creamy old fashioned variant. [Side note: I asked for a taste of the foie gras bourbon on its own – and it’s much better left in the cocktail rather than as a solo act…]
The first two drinks were quite good and we began the night thinking we preferred this to El Paradiso, which we had visited the night prior (review here). Between sips, we marveled at the bartenders, who were clearly having fun in their fast and flashy flair style of cocktail making. After watching for a while, however, we suspected that the floors beneath them were probably sticky with spilled drinks (there were a number of half-caught throws, which is fair given the pace and the distance of the throws).
Groups wandered in and out as we sat drinking. Unlike the other bars that we visited, the patrons on the Monday evening that we visited on were not the standard couples-on-vacation are but rather mostly men, ranging from large groups of Spanish men to duos that were sipping cocktails between frequent smoking breaks. This perhaps ended up being the dip in the experience for the bar for us: it’s usually fun to either talk to the bartenders or to your fellow patrons, and it ended up instead being a largely silent drinking session as we read the cocktail menu from cover to cover again.
After a few attempts to strike up conversation, we ordered a second round. The two that caught our eyes were the Altitudes (Auchentoshan American Oak, Rum-Bar Gold, fungi porcini vermouth, and juniper ratafia) and Tiempo (Barcadi Rum, Martini Bitter, oloroso, and chartreuse macerated in banana and mango). They were both beautiful but left only partially drunk at the bar as we walked off to nearby La Whiskeria in search of a few drams.