No-frills bars

Cervecería Azul y Blanco: a no-frills bar that’s accidentally become retro

13 May 2017

Cervecería Azul y Blanco takes its name from everyone’s favourite Mediterranean colour combination, but as its bold colours fade to dark grey and dusty pink, this little corner bar slips into a bygone era and has become totally kitsch.

Owner Ángel Blas has been running this place for 25 years. He kicked off his career as a professional waiter at Los Pinchitos just off Plaza Mayor, where he claims still has the best chocolate con churros in Madrid. In 1992, he took over Azul y Blanco from his family and hasn’t changed the décor since.

The retro dining area

The retro dining area

From the outside, you’ll notice the smoky glass windows, which once you get inside, are covered by white curtains, keeping the place private – a typical style for Spanish dining areas. The bar area spans the width of the room, and the raised dining area sits neatly in the angled corner of the building. The menu with adjustable numbers is in euros and was once pesetas, and the whole place is beautifully decorated with retro canteen furniture and a couple of fruit machines. Cervecería Azul y Blanco is an archetypal, no-frills Spanish bar – a perfect example of the kinds of places this blog exists for.

The large bar area

The large bar area

A classic Spanish menu serving hot and cold food

The classic Spanish menu

Fruit machines

Fruit machines

After serving us a caña and little bowl of salty green olives, Ángel kept himself to himself. When he came to wipe down our end of the bar, I told him that I thought his bar was beautiful, and he gave me a big smile and started telling me all about it.

 “It’s very old and has many antiques, but I wouldn’t say it’s castizo. Have you seen my Coca Cola sign? It’s original. And those chairs, well, they’re not chairs, they’re beer barrels! Do you like chocolate and churros? You must visit Los Pinchitos. Let me draw you a map. And do you like bull fighting? San Isidro is coming up!”

Ángel Blas, owner of Cervezería Azul y Blanco

Ángel Blas, owner of Cervecería Azul y Blanco

Two generous cañas

Look at those cañas

Beer barrels disguised as seating

Beer barrels disguised as seating

Angel's retro Coca Cola sign

Angel’s retro Coca Cola sign

Angel's directions to Los Pinchitos

Ángel’s directions to Los Pinchitos

Ángel doesn’t seem to bring in many customers anymore. In the time we were there, only one other person came in and it was to buy cigarettes from the machine by the bar. I begin to visualise a story that’s so often told: the owner gets old and sick and can’t run the place anymore, and his children aren’t keen to take over, so the bar either gets sold on or closes.

But, given Cervecería Azul y Blanco has stayed so true to its original style that it’s come out on the other side of cool, perhaps this is one of Madrid’s no-frills bars that might actually survive.

INFO

  • Address: Calle de Cartagena, 73
  • Nearest metro: Diego de León / Avenida de América
  • Opening hours: 7 am-12 am

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