It only takes one languid day spent roaming around Barcelona to realize that Catalans know how to live. Specifically, they know how to relax, usually with a beverage in hand. To get the full experience is to know the cadence of all-day drinks and snacks, an ethos you can easily adopt with these tips. Start with a small beer and light midmorning meal. Afternoon brings vermouth and salty bites. Later, dinner with wine is followed by ratafía, a locally made digestif.
The region, and Barcelona in particular, is in the midst a craft beer renaissance. Spearheaded by American expats, the movement has brought an influx of high-quality pours. Beers made by Edge Brewing, Fort and La Companyia Cervesera del Montseny (CCM) can be found in the U.S. For an authentic experience, pair them with tortilla Española, a frittata-like egg dish filled with potatoes and onions. The match is commonly found on breakfast menus throughout Spain.
Vermouth was a staple here long before others considered it in vogue, and red vermouths are often enjoyed with nothing but ice and a slice of orange. Some selections to try stateside are the smartly designed bottles of Casa Mariol Vermut Negre and Partida Creus MUZ, an herbal, ruby elixir.
In Catalonia, the drink is often paired with salty tapas, chief among them canned seafood called conservas. Area canneries select the highest quality seafood, and pack it with specialty oils, sauces or vegetables. The most popular options include octopus with paprika sauce, cockles in olive oil and razor clams in brine. At home, look out for producers like Conservas de Cambados, Ramón Peña and Espinaler.
Catalan days end with ratafía, an aromatic, herbal liqueur made from fresh walnuts and other fruits, spices and herbs. With an alcohol content typically between 26–29%, it packs a punch. It’s unavailable in the U.S., so choose an equally potent digestif, like nocino or herbal amaro, to pass around the table after dinner.