Madrid will never disappoint those looking for something to do after dinner. But be warned‚ in a place where dinner can often start at 11 p.m., the first drink might not come until 1 or 2 a.m. Here, it’s completely possible and absolutely acceptable to be out at various bars until 5 or 6 a.m. any night of the week. And the rules of the game have changed a bit, with imbibing becoming a much more public event. Classic boîtes like Bar Cock still offer a private, clubby atmosphere at night, but at many of the roof terraces like La Terraza or all-day, multi-space restaurants such as Perrachica or Habanera, you can find friends catching up over craft gin and tonics (the new national cocktail) at any hour of the day.
Reina 16, Madrid 28004, Spain | +34 91 532 2826
Great cocktails, Traditional style
Knock on the unsigned door and the bouncer will look you over. If you pass muster (suit and tie are regular—though not required—attire for men; women wear anything from jeans and heels to minidresses), you’ll be granted entry into the massive 19th-century space with a carved ceiling, plaster walls, and deep wood booths. Be forewarned that the cigar smoke is heavy and the cocktails (think gin and tonics) are strong. The old-boys-club atmosphere is more or less tongue in cheek, and the clientele of arts- and media-industry types is friendly.
Corredera Baja de San Pablo 17, Madrid 28004, Spain | +34 91 522 8767
Great design, Modern style
One delightful by-product of Spain’s economic woes a few years ago was a clever fusion of art, retail, and hospitality. Selling his sleek welded-steel furniture and serving craft beers and crisp gin and tonics on weekend evenings, designer Kike Keller was a pioneer of the trend and his bar remains a popular spot to start the night.
The Principal Madrid Hotel, Marques de Valdeiglesias 1, Madrid 28004, Spain | +34 91 521 8743
Great cocktails, Hotel bar
When it opened in spring of 2015, the rooftop bar crowning the new Principal Madrid Hotel quickly became the property’s best-known asset. Sweeping skyline views of the stunning towers, turrets, and statuary adorning Gran Via’s most emblematic and exuberant fin-de-siècle architecture provide an “only-in-Madrid” backdrop for the artisanal cocktails of barman Diego Arias and a menu of nibbles designed by celebrated chef Ramon Freixa.
Echegaray 7, Madrid 28004, Spain | +34 91 429 7313
Traditional style, Great wine list
Slightly off the beaten track in Barrio de las Letras is this authentic throwback to the simpler days of old Madrid, with no tipping and no photos (yes, that includes Instagrams) allowed. You’ll be able to savor classic sherries and other fortified wines with no distractions, along with a few simple tapas like olives or succulent discs of sliced chorizo. Popular with the Spanish culturati (artists, musicians, and journalists) who find comfort in the enforced simplicity, it’s a great stop for a pre-lunch or dinner aperitivo.
San Mateo 21, Madrid 28004, Spain | +34 91 011 5810
Great cocktails, Great design
The headlines when this bar opened in 2015 were all about the lack of labels behind the bar. There’s no Tanqueray, no Grey Goose, no Johnnie Walker. Why settle for mere craft cocktails when you can start with craft spirits? After leading the bar crew at several well-known establishments, seasoned barman Narciso Bermejo started Macera, where he produces his own spirits using state-supplied grain alcohol that get macerated, mulled, mollified, and mediated with a variety of natural flavorings. These liquors then get mixed into inventive cocktails by Bermejo and his team.
Tartan Roof (Circulo de Bellas Artes)
Calle del Marqués de Casa Riera, 2, Madrid 28014, Spain | +34 91 020 7040
Located on top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes art center on Calle Alcalá, this is a great spot for sunset cocktails while ogling the bird’s-eye views of central Madrid. In inclement weather, the café downstairs—with its original Art Deco interior and covered terrace—is an excellent runner-up for cultured tippling.
Pez 16, Madrid 28004, Spain | +34 91 169 4976
The surprising décor of this charmingly quirky bar was inspired by the luxe trains of the last century. The video projections in the “windows” offering views of several landscapes, so revelers can glide into the night without ever leaving the building. The Passenger is beloved for its friendly staff, solid cocktail-making, and a rotating roster of DJs on weekend nights.