Barcelona is home to many travellers, explorers and adventure seekers.  Whether you are passing through, making a short stay or an expat looking to make a new home, Barcelona has something to offer for everyone.  However one of the most famous travellers and explorers of them all was Italian merchant family born, Marco Polo.

Marco Polo was known famous for many things, one including his use and exploration of the Silk Road.  The Silk Road was a historic and ancient trade route system that connects Eastern and Western parts of the continent of Asia.  The Silk Road name is derived from the Chinese silk trade on the Han Dynasty.

We caught up with Mathias Alsén of MARCOPOLOS Bar and Restaurant in Barcelona to have a chat with him on the idea behind the Silk Road influenced cocktail menu and interesting plates of the venue.

Can you tell me a little bit behind the Silk Road concept of your menu? 

Well the idea is to make our cocktail menu by drawing inspiration from the travels of Marco Polo and the Silk Road.  So that’s why we try to incorporate a lot of spices and ingredients from those different areas of the world in to our drinks, as well as naming some of the drinks in reference to that or doing a serve that fits the theme and so on. For example during research we discovered that Marco Polo was the governor of Yangzhou in China for a while, so we made a cocktail in honour of that, naming it Yangzhou and using ingredients very typical to the Yangzhou cuisine, like soy sauce and ginger etc.

Well it is safe to say that you and the dream team with Malin Fonell and Moe Aljaff, something I like to call the Swedish M&M&M´s.  You all certainly execute that idea and those flavours nicely! Would you say that the Catalan food/beverage culture has any influence from the Silk Road in your opinion?  It has been know you have a few Catalan locals that like to enjoy your bar.

Yes most definitely, I would say both in terms of drink and food. For example one of the first things that comes to mind is rum, which is super popular here, sugar canes, which rum is made from were being shipped along the Silk Road by Marco Polo. Also you have Vermouth which is fortified wine and is flavoured with spices and herbs directly related to the Silk Road. As for food I would certainly say that the Silk Road and Marco Polo´s travels, leading back to Italy has had a huge impact on food even in Spain and Catalonia.

Great! It’s interesting to see what dishes are influenced by especially something as quintessential and historical as the Silk Road That being said, would you recommend the food and menu of Marcopolos to your fellow expats and locals?!

Indeed! Yes I believe it is a good menu, especially since we have the variation of dishes and not only do one type of cuisine so to speak, making it easier for people to find exactly what they feel like eating.

Being a man of exotic taste and a great palate are there any side projects or upcoming news to keep an eye out for?!

Thanks! Yes actually there is. My colleague and friend Moe and I are doing a super cool project right now called the Two Schmucks Tour. Essentially we travel to some of the best bars around the world and do guest shifts in their bars, making a menu with our cocktails, playing our music and spreading our schmucky vibe in a “1 night only” type setting. For anyone interested in following that we use the hastags #twoschmucks and #twoschmucksontour for both Facebook and Instagram.

Well we certainly thank you for your time with us today and we look forward to visiting the bar again and will definitely keep an eye out for the #twoschmucks on the move!

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