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Del Diego, Madrid

12 Calle de la Reina
Tel: 34 91 523 3106's insider take:

Dapper in his dark suit, distinguished in his courtly manner, and wrinkled with cocktail wisdom, Fernando del Diego presides over his warmly lit zinc bar with a level of precision and humble attention to detail that is a revelation even in a city full of great bars. House creations include the Diego, with vodka, kirsch, lime, and melocotón (a sweet, red squash-like fruit); the soltero tranquilo, with vodka, Calvados, lime, and blue curaçao; and one of the best-balanced mint juleps in existence. Yet to focus merely on del Diego's recipes is to appreciate only part of his talent. Stop and take a moment simply to watch the master mixologist's hands—the measured flick of ice cracker against cube nestled in his palm, or the quick, compact full-arm shake that kicks up a froth neither one millimeter taller nor one millimeter shorter than is intended. This is where an Adrià foam meets a Federer forehand, and it's much appreciated by the thirtysomething local crowd, who are here for the cocktails rather than to be seen.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.