The greatest bars in Spain are very simple affairs. There’s a bar, someone behind it to pour the drinks and one person out back making very tasty morsels. Sometimes they don’t even have a cook – just the barman slicing off little morsels of jamón and aged cheese, perhaps opening a tin of exceptionally good mussels. That is the model for the MoVida crew’s latest venture. It’s called Bar Tini and it’s just a few short steps up the cobblestoned Hosier Lane from the original restaurant; it pays homage to all the best aspects of classic Spanish bars and bodegas without being a pastiche.
Bar Tini (the name is taken from the Spanish ‘tini’, a martini made with fino sherry instead of vermouth), sits in what was Melbourne’s original laneway drinking destination: Misty Bar. This location was also once home to the local branch of the Communist Party during the early twentieth century. The room is dim with red lino stripes lining one side of the room’s walls. Behind it a sweeping grey wood gantry is stacked with mainly Spanish wine. (In future this will be a wine store where you can buy a bottle to take home or drink it in house for a small mark-up). The rear of the shelves are lined with Spanish tiles, while below the bar a carved textured wooden façade that’s visually striking and superbly beautiful. Punched into the back wall is a small kitchen not even big enough to swing un gato. This is where award winning MoVida Aqui head chef Ewen Crawford has moved. Working side by with co-owner and MoVida founder Frank Camorra, he has created a compact bar menu that encapsulates the very best of Spanish bars – such as the famous Quimet y Quimet in Barcelona. The montaditos, or ‘mounted’ open sandwiches are fantastic. Using a recipe from Albert Adrià’s Tickets Bar in Barcelona, Crawford bakes perfect little buns that are halved then toasted to a rusk-like texture. On these might be peeled fat or juicy prawns slathered in a tangy tuna mayonnaise. There is a plate of freshly sliced embutidos, different types of cured sausages served with picos, like short crusty grissini. The stand out dish is the plate of cured fish: Salted rockling, the best canned sardines, pastrami-like salmon and smoked garfish. Delicious.
While there are a few tables in the larger and slightly brighter room adjacent to the bar, there are high tables and stools dotted around the main bar, in true Spanish style. Bar Tini opens in the afternoon however the after work crowd soon gives way to the people who know how to party – and how to enjoy real Catalan vermouth: straight from the grifon or tap. There’s specially made cider from Napoleone, Moritz beer fresh from the keg and a range sherries from the south of Spain. While you’re there, try the tini – made with a good shot of Spanish juniper-driven gin and a splash of dry, salty manzanilla sherry shaken over ice. Poured into a martini glass it’s served with a tasty olive wrapped in an anchovy. It’s dirty and packs a punch. After one of these you could easily feel like you’re in a back street bar in the heart of Madrid or on the waterfront in Cadiz.
3-5 Hosier Lane, Melbourne