It was the men’s reactions that were the most interesting as this aged transvestite sauntered into the room, brushing the heavy red curtain away with a scrawny arm, attempting to deflect the fabric from dislodging her hair-piece further. Some blokes visibly quake as the out-of-sight/out-of-mind boundary crumbles in the face of such a vision. With others the initial confusion is replaced by grins, good humour and laughs while others take a step back as the transvestites eyes scan the room for an attractive fellow to grasp and plant painted lips on to younger cheeks. For me I’m awash with relief as I remember that I’m way too old now for any such attention and then spy, as I find is usual, the eyes drenched more in melancholia than mascara. I’ve found that no amount of camp or flouncing can really mask that look.
Our encounter lasted just minutes. Enough time for Violetta to sing a few lines in Catalan, waving a CD recording of her best work, capture a waist and plant lipstick marks on the guys cheek before swishing back to the main bar. The Dry Martini Bar, an institution in Barcelona has been her evening hangout for as long as the ‘Speakeasy’ staff can remember. She was getting on a bit, if truth be told.
The atmosphere in this tiny back bar was one of bemusement and a few laughs. Plus a little relief as Violetta tottered off on chipped-heeled, white plastic shoes. Now I remembered the weighty camera hanging from my neck! The few pictures I managed to capture are poor, for which I apologise. Only the surprise and the really dark environment being the excuses that no amount of photoshop work can rectify.
We where there for cocktail instruction!
Poured over a spear of three fruits – pineapple, blackberry and raspberry – a vigorously stirred mix of calvados and brandy (2cl of each), topped up with the fragrant Freixenet Rosé was the initial cocktail; the deft hand of Ernesto made our volunteers valiant efforts to replicate its creation look a touch ham-fisted. Not least with the ice-stirring, where cubes appeared to be flying all over the place, and that was before Violetta left those lip-stick marks on his flushed cheek!
The second cocktail had one 2cl measure each of vodka and peach liqueur, again both stirred rather violently in ice before straining, topped up with the white Freixenet Cordon Negro cava. The garnish here being a single slice of star fruit. Neither cocktails have names and I left unsure as to why not and if they appear on the Martini Bar’s regular list or not. Work in development perhaps as there was talk of previous trials having contained apple juice.
Whatever their provenance or intended listing potential they were rather tasty
Those plush banquettes, white jacketed staff and impressively stocked bar-shelves at the Dry Martini did not, sadly, see us linger; after the Violetta entertainment and Ernesto Freixenet demonstration we were whisked away … we did spot Violetta the following evening heading back to the bar (the hotel being just a few doors up from Martini Dry). She was wearing the same red dress with wig positioned correctly.
Dry Martini Bar and Speakeasy: Aribau, 162-166 08036 Barcelona, Spain.