How did the humble gin and tonic earn its lofty status as the unofficial national drink of Spain? “Because it’s a drink that’s easy to make at home,” says bartender Alessandro Pasquinucci of Barcelona’s Bloody Mary Cocktail Bar.

But of course, it’s in actual bars like Bloody Mary that Barcelona’s new wave of gin tonics is cresting. And maybe it’s just that simplicity of Spain’s preferred after-dinner drink that has spurred a new generation of innovative Barcelona bartenders to take the common G&T to sublime heights.

Silver dust, homemade wine-barrel-aged gin, Indian tea, exotic herbs and organic aromatics are some of the ingredients that go into the signature drinks of Barcelona’s best barmen, like Pasquinucci, who presides over a variety of Spanish-made and international gins.

There are some consistent standards at Barcelona’s classic establishments as well as its trendier bars, where gin tonics are taken seriously: the stemmed glass, the elegant presentation, and the serious sense of purpose shown behind the bar.

And the preparation of the gin and tonic, like other arts, is made excellent not only by virtue of what’s in it, but by what has been left out.

We recently visited four of Barcelona’s leading cocktail bars, where bartenders mixed their personal favorites:

The Monkey 47 at Old Fashioned Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar. (Illustrations by David Navas and Judy Cantor-Navas.)
The Monkey 47 at Old Fashioned Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar. (Illustrations by David Navas.)

Old Fashioned Gin Tonic & Cocktail Bar

The entire cocktail menu changes every six months at this modern bar with traditional style in the Gracia neighborhood. Bespoke cocktails attract demanding and appreciative patrons.

Barman: Bruno Rodrigues (Portugal)

“Too many ingredients in a gin and tonic will break the bubbles,” Rodrigues warns. “Not even lemon. Rub lemon peel on the rim of the glass to bring the aroma to the drink.”

Signature gin and tonics

Monkey 47
Gin: Monkey 47 gin from Germany’s Black Forest, containing 47 botanicals including citrus, lavender and rosemary. The 47 also represents the gin’s alcohol grade.
Tonic: Fever-Tree (U.K.)

Galician Nordes gin made with albariño grapes from northern Spain
Tonic: 1724, made in Chile with water from Patagonia and quinine from trees grown 1,724 meters above sea level
Other ingredients: Hibiscus; eucalyptus; orange peel

Carrer Santa Teresa 1;

Boca Chica's Jacobschhh.
Boca Chica’s Jacobschhh

Boca Chica

This decadently decorated pricey cocktail bar on the second floor of Boca Grande restaurant attracts businesspeople from out of town seeking an exclusive drink experience.

Bar boss: Sergi Padilla (Spain)

Barman: Josep Martí (Spain)

Signature gin and tonics

Tanqueray 10
Tonic: Schweppes
Other ingredients: Black Indian tea with silver dust aromatized with grapefruit; dry ice

The silver dust is in honor of tonic inventor Jacob Schweppes, a German jeweler.

A spectacular gin and tonic: The glass turns silver and emits smoke, like a Halloween witch’s cauldron. Awarded Schweppes’ 2015 Best Gin and Tonic.

Homemade gin distilled with Japanese botanicals and aged in Rivera del Duero wine barrels for two years
Tonic: Schweppes
Other ingredients: Berries

Passatge de la Concepció, 12;

Bobby Gin's Modernessia.
Bobby Gin’s Modernessia

Bobby Gin

Renowned as Barcelona’s top gin and tonic bar, Bobby Gin serves copyrighted gin and tonics and Asian-inspired tapas. “The perfect gin and tonic doesn’t exist,” proclaims a huge sign at the bar, which obviously only serves to motivate its barmen to go further.

Barman: Alberto Pizarro (Spain)

Signature gin and tonic

Modernessia, from Tarragona, Spain
Tonic: Schweppes Premium
Other ingredients: Rosemary; lemon

Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47;

Bloody Mary Cocktail Bar's Berkeley Square.
Bloody Mary Cocktail Bar’s Berkeley Square

Bloody Mary Cocktail Bar

One of the newer bars on Barcelona’s ever-expanding cocktail scene, this one features an impressive selection of gin made in Spain, about which barman Alessandro Pasquinucci is pleased to share his knowledge while preparing your G&T.

Barman: Alessandro Pasquinucci (Italy)

Signature gin and tonics

Number 209
Number 209, San Francisco
Tonic: 17/24
Other ingredients: Black cardamom; grapefruit bitters; lemon peel

Berkeley Square
Berkeley Square (U.K.)
Tonic: Fever Tree
Other ingredients: Jamaican pepper; lemon peel; basil

Carrer de Ferrer de Blanes, 3;