On a lively street in the La Latina neighborhood of Madrid, sits a small bar which you may walk right past if you’re on a night of tapa-hopping around. But if you happen to cross Taberna La Concha, let the turquoise paint pull you in, because inside is one of the coolest experiences you are likely to find in La Latina.
I first heard of Taberna La Concha from Jean-Marc, our Couchsurfing Ambassador in Spain, when he wrote A Couchsurfers Guide to Madrid:
Have the best vermouth in the city at La Concha in iconic Calle Cava Baja street. But you must order it as a ‘Manuela’. for it to be served with three sprays of gin, filled with vermú and topped with a dash of Campari bitters and an olive and orange peel garnish.Jean-Marc
I had the opportunity to visit La Concha, actually with Jean-Marc, during the recent MadCrash. The event began with Tapa-hopping in La Latina and we arrived to a bar with the backroom reserved for Couchsurfers. Jean-Marc came up and whispered in my ear, “La Concha is across the street, but it’s very small and they don’t allow big groups, so I’m going to take people in groups of eight, follow me.”
Vermouth and an adventure? SIGN ME UP! So I followed Jean-Marc and what followed was one of the coolest experiences of the weekend. The bar itself is an old styled bar, long and narrow, with a bar taking up half of the space, but what makes the bar special is the mix of decor, patrons sitting on bar stool talking over martini glasses, and the bartender meticulously crafting the Manuela. Jean-Marc explained that the owner of the bar is called Concha and she named the drink after her daughter, Manuela.
So we ordered Manuelas. Eight to be exact. At which point the bartender gave a not-at-all quiet scoff. Nevertheless, he set out the eight martini glasses with one ice cube in each. Sprayed the gin, three times exactly per glass, dropped the cocktail stick with an olive and orange peel, poured the vermouth, and finished with a generous dash of Campari bitters.
And thus that is the Manuela. Next time you find yourself in Madrid, make your way to Taberna La Concha and order a ‘Manuela‘, just don’t go with seven of your closest friends, or you are likely to be met with hat same scoff.