Barkaiztegi Sidra [Bar Laurel – Ottawa]
Sampled August 2017
In late 2016, when we were at Fauna on Bank Street in Ottawa, we mentioned to our server that we wrote a blog about cider. He told us that their sister restaurant, Bar Laurel on Wellington Street in Hintonburg, carried an authentic Spanish import sidra that we should try. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, knowing we were boarding a plane to Spain in early September, we thought finally heading to Bar Laurel to try this sidra before our trip would be the perfect primer for all the sidras we hope to drink there.
Bar Laurel is a modern Spanish tapas bar on the main Wellington Street West strip. With an extensive menu of small plates that is in both Spanish and English, it may be the closest experience you can get to Spain within the proper Ottawa-area. On their drink menu, we found the sidra we were looking for – Barkaiztgi Sidra. We ordered the full bottle and in doing so we feel we got the most out of the experience possible.
When the server brought us the sidra, it came in a silver bucket and ice, and rather normal glasses. What was not normal, to our surprise, was how he poured the sidra. He took these glasses, held them below his waist, and poured the sidra into them from a height – with the bottle above his shoulder. With an impressive accuracy, all the sidra made it into our glasses; with him commenting that his pouring technique was normal for the style but not as impressive as some Spaniards do it.
Barkaiztegi Sidra is a solid 6% abv.. Imported directly from cider capital of Spain, San Sebastian, it is a naturally made drink. It is a hazy, murky, bright yellow colour, with a lot of sediment floating in the glass. The sidra has some foam and a lot of fine streaming carbonation. The smell is extraordinary – very strong, old-world musty fermentation aroma, with some mild ‘hoppy’-like notes. By the smell alone, you can taste the tradition this sidra originates from.
There is a quick medium bite from the mustiness and astringency, with some bitter notes involved. It is tart, crisp in the mouth and had some mild melon flavours to it. With the mustiness being the most prominent flavour, it lingers awhile on the palate. Apple flavours come through in the aftertaste and the drink becomes more dry – with some mild leather notes to the drink. The sidra overall has a flat flavour journey, with no carbonation sensation, but does have a large tannin presence that provides a lot the sidra body. Strongly featuring the barreling process and fermentation flavours, it is unique and rudimental – obviously not changing production means in many, many years.
This is not a beginner cider – if you are only accustomed to sweet, commercial ciders, this is probably not for you. But if you are an experienced cider drinker and/or want a true taste of Spain, we highly recommend this sidra and Bar Laurel in general. We hope to come back after we return from Spain for some tapas and to relive some memories.