For the best Sherry in the world simply travel down to Spain’s southern coast around the town of Jerez. But here in Madrid you can get a taste before you go. Don’t like sherry? Maybe you do but just don’t know if yet. Unlike wine, sherry does not benefit from being in the bottle so the closer you are to it’s source, the better. Here in Madrid we are relatively close, same country, but step inside the Madrid bar “La Venencia” and you are immediately transported to Andalusia circa 1950 or before.
Since the 1920’s La Venencia’s unassuming exterior has welcomed visitors on the street Echagaray near Madrid’s center, Puerta del Sol. The wooden bar has fresh chalk marks, which are the clients tabs, dusty bottles line the wall behind the bar, along with some decorative sherry barrels and a “venencia”, the bar’s namesake which is the cup on a rod used for extracting sherry from barrels in the solera system. The yellowing walls hold antique posters announcing the Jerez spring fairs from years such as 1949 and 1957, a friendly cat sleeps on one of the tables at the back. Order your sherry at the bar along with tapas before taking a table. Olives (REALLY good ones) or almonds come free with the drinks but you can try ham, cecina (cured beef), mojama (cured tuna), manchego cheese etc, for about 2 euros per tapa. La Venencia serves a variety of types of Sherry or “Jerez” as its called in Spanish. They are: Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximénez and Manzanilla. For a description of these sherries, visit madaboutsherry.com. Wikipedia has a good explanation too. I like Palo Cortado, so if you aren’t sure what to order you can see if you agree with me.
And in keeping with good Andaluz tradition, you pay at the end. The bartender adds up your tab in chalk right on the wooden bar and probably won’t accept a tip. Before you step back out into the busy Madrid nightlife you sigh, aahhh, this is Spain.
La Venencia/ Address: Calle Echagaray, 7 / Tel: 914 29 626 / Metro Stop: Sol or SevillaClick here for a map of the location