Madrid Drinking Adventures: La Venencia

IMG_4776The first time I tried Spanish sherry, fino, sometimes known by one of its famous brand names, Tio Pepe, I found it sharp and dry and slightly unpleasant. This was when I was working at Expo 92 in Seville, in my early 20s and without a particularly sophisticated food or drinking palate. But somehow I came to like the flavour quite quickly and since then, the taste of it brings me back to hot weather in Andalucia and this feeling of everything beginning.

It’s not easily found though, and usually, there’s not much choice. So, hearing from my friend Peter that there was a bar in Madrid that specialised in sherry… Oh my god. It’s much more than a bar though, it’s a piece of history. Dating back to the 30s, it was a hangout for Republican sympathizers, as well as Ernest Hemingway (read about it here…) and has some strict rules about no tipping (because all workers are supposed to be equal) and no photos (since they could be used as evidence against the people in the bar). So, I’m pretty impressed that so many photos have snuck up on the Yelp review page! When we were there, someone tried to take a sneaky photo and wasn’t allowed…

In any case, they serve five different types of sherry here, from big oak-casks, all from Jerez, the Andalusian home of sherry. I’m used to, in Australia, associating the darker sherries (amontallido, olorosa) with a dessert sherry, but these were either bastardized versions or I’m confused. Each of the sherries I tried (and I’m sad to say I only managed three of them) were really dry, though varying in weight and texture, and flavour.

The other thing is that the glasses were cheap. Like a couple of euros each. So cheap it felt like they were paying me to enjoy myself at the bar. As we went at the end of the night, we didn’t have the appetite for what looked like very tasty bar snacks and selections of meat, and if we’d gone earlier in the night, I would have aimed to try all five! But ah, I was so glad to be introduced to this place. Sherry heaven!


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