How 14 de la Rosa in Barcelona combines traditional and modern sherry culture
Barcelona’s 14 de la Rosa resides in an old café-bar in the Gràcia district. The bar is a bridge between traditional and progressive sherry culture; here, the Andalusian specialty is celebrated both in neat and in cocktails. But both with elegance and composure.
Jordi is a true celebrity in Barcelona and Catalonia. With his rock band N’Gai N’Gai he had great success in the 80s and 90s and coined the genre of “Rock Català”, that is Catalan rock. They played gigs and appeared on TV shows throughout Spain and France.
Nowadays, the Catalan is taking it a bit more slow. He spends his days in beautiful Gràcia, one of the most beautiful and quietest parts of the metropolis of Barcelona. A glass of sherry in the sun is a good way to start the evening. In fact, this is exactly how most Spanish people enjoy the wine from Andalusia. Usually it is drunk straight and well chilled in Spain. As an aperitivo, a dry Fino Sherry with a few olives before dinner, and for afterwards a more mellow Pedro Ximénez or Cream with some cheese.
14 de la Rosa is only called „Catorce“
One of the bars in Barcelona that is particularly focused on sherry is called 14 De La Rosa, affectionately called „14“ by guests, in Spanish pronounced „Catorce“. For this reason, chances are, you will encounter Jordi when you pay it a visit around aperitivo time.
„We took over a very old café bar and wanted to be respectful of its history. We wanted the bar to feel timeless and create a sense of time travel when you enter the café“, says owner Dean Shury (yes, the temptation to resort to wordplays due to the similarity of his name to fortified wine is strong).
Sherry soaked in candlelight
The bar is, as the name suggests, number 14 on Carrer de Martinez De La Rosa, named after a Spanish poet. So romantic, you couldn´t make this up. As you walk down the orange tree-lined street, look for the dimly lit red lantern, or you’ll easily miss the bar’s red wooden facade.
Walk through the door and you’re immersed in a room drenched in candlelight. You walk across tiles with classic Spanish patterns and sit on a stool at the bar made of wood with a marble surface. From there, you can watch the bartenders, dressed in white bar jackets, ties or bow ties, mix drinks. Spanish music or old jazz plays in the background. If you’re lucky, Jordi is sitting on one of the stools next to you. He was one of the first guests ever in this bar and has a lot to tell: „I was very happy when Catorce opened in this neighbourhood, before that you could find real cocktail bars only in the centre. I’ve been to a lot of different places and for me this is one of the most beautiful bars ever.“
The sherry focus
One ingredient that is particularly common on the menu is sherry. In addition to small plates, coffee, regional wine and the cocktails, there’s a whole page just for aperitives with sherry. On it are a Jerez Negroni, with Fino sherry and the vermouth house blend, and a Fino Mary, a Bloody Mary, also with Fino sherry. There are also three Sherry classics that are always on the menu, namely an Adonis consisting of Fino, vermouth, beetroot shrub and cassis and a Bamboo with Fino, Lillet, Moscatel and orange blossom. Last is the Coronation with Manzanilla Sherry, dry vermouth, cherry and coffee liquor. „Sherry adds a flavour profile to cocktails that is otherwise hard to find. An umami note that rounds up the drink“, Shury says.
In addition, sherry is often used in small amounts as a modifier at 14 De La Rosa: „Our Gimlet and French 75 both have a little sherry in them to give them a dry touch. For our Poet’s Dream, we use a little Amontillado, as it adds a nutty and complex note.“ If all that isn’t enough of a reason why you should definitely have a few bottles of sherry in your (home) bar, Maxime Staechelin, head bartender at 14 De La Rosa, provides another: „Sherry adds an elegant touch and complexity to drinks. It allows you to lower the alcohol level without sacrificing flavour and body. With many guests currently ordering more aperitif cocktails and drinks with less alcohol content, sherry is a perfect fit.“
À la Jordi – or classic
Jordi could also tell you a lot more about the history of sherry, how the English were involved in it, and how it is anchored in Spanish culture. That would go beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, only the answer to the most important question, namely how he drinks his sherry: „I used to drink it only straight. Now I usually drink a Bamboo. Here at Catorce, they have a Bamboo à la Jordi: namely with a splash of gin. That’s how I like it best.“
Well, see you soon for a Bamboo at 14 De La Rosa. À la Jordi or classic.
Foto: Judith Tabuenca Cruz