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What to Expect at Madrid’s Speakeasy-Style Salmon Guru Bar

The eye-catching space lures with rectangular ’60s lounge with red banquettes and body-hugging black velvet chairs

Superhero-inspired lounge / Photo: Courtesy of Salmon Guru

Like the fish that lives in ice-cold water, leaps up in the air and swims against the stream, mixologist Diego Cabrera is forging his own path with Salmon Guru, a speakeasy-style destination in Madrid’s Literary Quarter. When it opened, it immediately caught the city’s attention and the word spread like wildfire. As one enters, a sensation of having arrived somewhere special takes over, in a space filled with shelfs containing vintage bottles, shakers and bartending paraphernalia. Past a small vestibule door is the first seating area, a rectangular ’60s lounge with red banquettes and body-hugging black velvet chairs. Then comes a superhero-inspired room with leather booths, multicolored neon lightning bolts and comics-inspired art. The last space, in the back, is dark and very red, a place to be romantic, to seduce and be seduced.

Red lounge / Photo: Courtesy of Salmon Guru

Changing seasonal menus honor Spain with creamy mussel croquettes with escabeche and Sweden with a perfectly cured gravlax, which complements the cocktails with a touch of acidity. From Korea, a soft bao with slow-cooked short rib and a spicy emulsion is a perfect pairing for Sangre de los Dioses, served in a fiery looking wild cat with a spicy red fruit jam resembling blood. This potion of mezcal, Glenlivet, habanero chili cordial, mint and chicha morada juice is inspired by Greek mythology’s ichor, a mineral present in the blood of the gods that allows them to achieve immortality.

Edad del Pavo, smoked with herbs under a glass bell / Photo: Courtesy of Salmon Guru

From Hindu mythology, Les Fleurs du Mal—served in a lotus flower, symbolizing the creation of the universe—mixes Hennessy brandy and gin with chai and sesame seeds, mandarin juice and pistachio milk. For those who enjoy rum, the impressive Dragon Daughter is among the most popular of Salmon Guru’s creations, presented in an oversize ceramic dragon that expels fumes. Holding the number 15 spot on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, Salmon Guru has created a movement among other local bars and businesses that are emulating this phenomenon. Later this year, the food and drink menu will pay tribute to Mexico, and we had a preview. Be prepared to drink your cochinita and make your tequila al pastor.