Beer O’Clock in Palma

21 May 2009 By Lisa Hoogerwerf Knapp

Beer O’Clock is a state of mind, not a geophysical hour, so adjusting your watch is not necessary on crossing the pond. When you want to wet your whistle in Palma de Mallorca, simply embrace your inner European: “Eat when you drink and drink when you eat.”

Tapas are one of Spain’s best contributions to global cuisine. They are small, tasty appetizers to nibble on with a drink. “Tapas” translates as “covers or lids”; according to local lore, they were originally pieces of bread placed over a glass to keep the flies out. Today, tapas can be anything from olives to cheese. It’s a style of eating rather than a form of cooking, best shared with friends, in the Beer O’Clock spirit.

Near the middle of Palma, Bar Bosch has served tapas and coffees since the 1930s and attracts an eclectic crowd. On the water, try the tapas at El Pesquerol.

“Friday night happy hour at Kariba bar in Portals Nous is great,” says Roger Horner, managing director of e3 Systems. “The wine is so good and so cheap here. Everybody tends to drink beer and wine here versus specialty drinks, as in the United States.”

If it’s past museum hours in Palma, Bar Abaco is the closest thing to an art scene that serves drinks. It’s rather avant garde with showers of fresh flowers and caged birds. You can plonk your drink down on antique wood that’s so shiny the brightwork guy could see his reflection. The cocktails are wonderful, but bring a lot of pesos.

On Passeig de Sagrera, there are many English and Irish pubs as well as a variety of Spanish bars. Capt. Phil Edwards is a fan of Fabrica 23 in the trendy, old fishing quarter of Santa Catalina. “It’s not expensive and it’s really good,” he says.“Ca'n Carrossa, which is inland in the village of Lloseta, has a good menu,” Edwards continues. “The chef was previously the chef for the King of Spain.”

The Nautic in Real Club Nautico Palma, the King of Spain’s yacht club, is one of Horner’s favorites. “The sea bass cooked in salt on the three-sided open terrace in the middle of Palma Harbour is grand,” he says. (Next to Japan, Spain has the highest consumption of fish in the world.)

Hotel Portixol near the entrance of Portixol Harbour is in an old, renovated building. The food is “nouvelle” Spanish, served on a sunny terrace that has an effervescent, cool breeze.

Another interesting restaurant is Port'Alt. “It’s next to the church on the top of the cliff overlooking the Med in Portals Nous,” Horner says. “It’s a great location and has an interesting choice of unusual entrees, such as ostrich and kangaroo.

I wonder if one drinks red or white wine with kangaroo?

You can work off that meal on the dance floor at Paseo Maritimo. This club is the end of the line for night owls. Then, it’s siesta time until the clock strikes Beer O’Clock again.