If you’re looking for a way to enjoy an evening and meet some of the diverse array of people living in central Barcelona, checking in at Betty Ford’s might be just for you. Just like the real Betty Ford Clinic in Hollywood, this Betty Ford’s is packed out with a collection of local artists, writers, actors, skaters, hipsters, as well as travellers who are staying in short-term lets and long term rentals in the area, who are more at home with their abuse of substances [Read: alcohol] than their celebrity counterparts.
Located in the Raval just around the corner from the MACBA, or the Museu d’Art Contemporani Barcelona which is probably better known as the building where the skaters spend most of their day, Betty Ford’s is a little hole-in-the-wall bar that combines a sense of intimacy with the liveliness of a party that is just about to start. Wrapped up in a dressed-down, slightly kitschy decor reminiscent of a vintage rockabilly diner merged with Hemingway’s study, the bar is adorned with framed pictures scattered across the walls, a projector that plays an assortment of films constantly and a music selection that ranges from 80s Synth-Rock to Chuck Berry that would appeal to anyone from after-work drinkers to late-night party goers.
The owner of the bar is a guy named David Kalucy, an Australian entrepreneur who kicked off Betty Ford’s about six years ago after the success of his previous bar Flamingo Cafe (of which there is a framed-photo on the wall of the bar and its locals who now frequent Betty Ford’s instead), and the bar team is an assembly of people from all over the world. There’s a mix of Spanish, Catalan and English speakers so it’s very traveller friendly, but that doesn’t seem to lessen its popularity with the locals. In fact it seems to encourage them, with many of the local regulars being introduced to new faces at the bar-top to create a welcoming atmosphere that many bars seem to be without. The staff are a diverse and interesting group of people; altogether friendly and more than willing to have a chat or make a suggestion for anyone unsure of what to order.
Their cocktail list features old favours like the incredibly popular Moscow Mule which they make with fresh ginger for a spicy kick as well as some inspired creations like their Spicy Apricot Sour, made with chilli vodka, lemon juice and apricot liqueur and the occasional Michelada (a Bloody Mary and beer hybrid-cocktail). Their beer selection is equally as impressive with a collection of styles including a few Belgian Ales, local craft beers, a beer called ‘Krut’, a champagne-yeast fermented, Citra-hops packed pale ale which is brewed by their chef Ben and the quintessential Australian ‘Coopers’ (this is the real Australian beer, Foster’s hasn’t been sold in Australia for almost two decades).
The food offering is also first-class, and is pumped out from a tiny kitchenette by the single chef. The menu is all burgers but with prices averaging the €9 mark for a burger and fries and with a selection that will satisfy even the most finicky eater, you’ll find little cause to complain. In fact, many of the regulars tout the Betty Ford’s to be the best burger joint in town. Despite their seemingly simple flavour combinations the burgers still display the staff’s inventiveness, with pairings like blue cheese with cranberry sauce and habanero with goats cheese guaranteed to take the edge off any late night hunger pains.
The venue trades from 5pm til late every day of the week with last drinks normally being called at around 2:30am and happy-hour specials run from 5pm til 9pm every day but Sunday, with cheap beers, sliders (mini-burgers duplicated from the menu) and a reduced menu of cocktails as well. Get in early to enjoy the cheap drinks and then stick around til late to catch up with some of the variety of people that call Betty Ford’s their local. Being in the perfect area for short-term accommodation with all the hostels and apartments for rent, this place could serve perfectly as an early starter or a finisher for any big night out, but there’s always the chance that you’ll end up stuck there all night. With the friendly staff, intriguing crowd and great food and drink options (not to mention all the pretty girls who seem to be drawn in), it is bound to one of the venues that you’ll either be compelled to return to, or never leave.