With its antique barrels, antique bullfighting posters, and antique toilet (Bodega Montse is certainly one of the only places in the whole city still with a squat toilet), having a drink in this 120 year old bar is a bit like stepping into a time machine. You almost expect the newspapers on the tables to be dated circa 1964.
If the idea of authenticity appeals; and if you want to get a feel for what many Barcelona bars were like in the ’60s, in what was then called Barrio Chino, this dusty relic, with its beautifully filthy, cobwebbed shelves will do the job.
I like this bar a lot, not only because of its antique atmosphere and keen prices for wines, vermuts and beer, but because of its location, literally in the shadow of Saint Augustine church, and not so far from the Boqueria market. Given its proximity to the tourist maelstrom of Las Ramblas the street is relatively quiet and traffic-free, and it’s possible to enjoy a drink and a chat at a pavement table without having to raise your voice, and without feeling hassled by the sheer numbers of passersby.
The friendly owner, Xavi, serves a range of reasonably priced cold snacks and light bites including, berberechos (cockles), mejillones (mussels), jamón (ham), embutidos (cured meats), anchoas (anchovies) and olives. But, if you’ve gone to the effort of getting here, don’t scrimp, just order a vermut de la casa. You’ll enjoy it and you’ll enjoy your trip back to the past.