It was William Faulkner, the great American author, who said, “Pouring out liquor is like burning books.” At Lo Pinyol in Barcelona, customers are encouraged to drink the liquor and read the books. The traditional wine bar and library specializes in Spanish vermouth alongside a selection of drinks from local Catalan producers.
In 2013 longtime friends Carels Poy and Pau Raga teamed up to restore the bar, which had been operating since 1934. Hoping to preserve history and a disappearing kind of venue—Barcelona’s old neighborhood restaurants and bodegas—the new owners recovered elements of the interior design: the tile flooring, glass lamps, and wooden bar. The shop’s original bodega sign still hangs out front, and six wooden wine barrels decorate the space.
In line with these venues’ history of catering to artists and writers, they added new pieces too, including a drawing by the Catalan artist Bartoli. But the biggest update was adding a small library to the back wall. There, customers are encouraged to add to the collection, swap books, or read while sipping a glass of wine, preferably vermouth.
Spain produces more than 150 different artisanal vermouths, a drink that became popular after migrating from Italy in the late 1800s. So popular, in fact, that it garnered its own slot in the Spanish mealtime schedule: la hora del vermut. Spanish vermouths are often darker and sweeter with more pronounced fruit flavors. The drink remains one of the country’s most popular wines.
To compliment their drinks, the bar boasts a considerable Catalan and Valencian menu that includes a seasonal selection of tapas and pintxos garnished with a variety of toppings: salted cod and roasted red pepper esgarraet, mató cheese and walnuts, and fresh sheep’s milk cheese with anchovies.
Know Before You Go
Lo Pinyol is a popular spot with limited seating and a devoted following. To make sure you can snag a seat, be sure to call ahead of time and make a reservation. Visit their website to learn more.