Sunday, 7 August 2016


I've seen the future, and the future is called 1862. 

Just what exactly is so significant about that number? Well, first of all, it sounds wonderful. Admit it, walking into a bar called 1862 after a hot day of endless siestas and modern art galleries has a certain swing to it. A swing you won't get anywhere else, certainly not along the tracks laid by tourists. Also, 1862 happens to be the year that mixology began. 

Mixology, the art of making cocktails. Which, let's admit, is all you should drink if you choose to make any sort of mark in this world. (I'm taking wine out of the equation, just for the sake of the argument.)     

So it was in 1862 that an American bartender named Jerry Thomas published the first ever drink book, HOW TO MIX DRINKS OR BON-VIVANT'S COMPANION. Everything that had been oral became written, and suddenly everyone could make an Arrack Punch, or a Columbia Skin, or even a Mint Julep.

150 metres from Noviciado, in a Madrid bar called 1862, they can make those cocktails if you are sharp enough to remember those names. Or else if you don't know that the Old-Fashioned they make is worth at least seven years of your life. I'm not going to say it's the best ever, for what is the best ever, but "A Woman Of No Standing" felt like a dream.

It's a classic place, and after I try my usuals, including the delicious yet hard-hitting Dark & Stormy once suggested to me by an American student from Boston who loved Dostoyevsky, a girl comes up to me and extends an 1862 card full of specials. At which point I'm so delighted to be alive I think it was I who wrote all those unpublished Brendan Behan stories.

The faces are flowing past me at the speed of sound. There's an Englishman finishing off his third Manhattan. There's a pair of Japanese girlfriends with a dog. There's a loud group of Spanish friends who are so electrifying I can't begrudge them the noise. And I'm telling the girl it's something different I want to try, something refreshing.

It's dark, and I feel reborn. She suggests Apple #1, and I say yes, absolutely, why not. Minutes later, I drink Apple #1 like it's the future. And even if it isn't, at some point in time and space, it's the only future that matters. 

Certainly at a place called 1862. The blood, sweat & tears of Jerry Thomas. Hands down greatest cocktail bar in the world.