Café Sant Jaume is one of the most iconic café-bars in Valencia. Located in the heart of one of the oldest districts of Valencia – El Carmen, it reflects Valencia’s history. While El Carmen’s past is not necessarily visible in forms of Medieval architectural marvels, the district radiates with vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of its millennial past mixed with bohemian vibes characterizing more recent times of leisure and fun.
It’s the ambiance reaching back to the time of Muslim rules, followed by an impact of Christianity, medieval aristocracy, through still visible traces of impoverished proletarian era (dilapidated facades covered with colorful graffities). But after-all, today’s El Carmen is the district of narrow, winding streets with countless souvenir shops, bars, restaurants, bistros, clubs and café-gardens annexing plazas and whenever possible – streets.
Although the Café Sant Jaume was opened only 31 years ago, it is cleverly feeding on more than 100 years old past of the premises. It was here, in the building dating from the 2nd half of the 19th century where in 1899, the famous Valencian pharmacist Don R. Cañizares Domingo opened his first pharmacy. Now, when the pharmacy is gone, its old furniture and decoration is gracefully playing “demanding” role of the cocktail bar. In fact, very large selection of bottles of liquors and all sorts of “mood-improving-mixtures” stacked on the shelves are proudly replacing now clearly obsolete “drugs and vitamins” from the remote past. Needless to say that beautifully carved woodwork creates charm and warmness…
Deeply rooted in the past, the Café Sant Jaume and its ambiance are very authentic. No wonder, that here you will find one of the best Aguas de Valencia in town. According to the family of Mr. Clemente Gil Rodrigez (inventor of this famous cocktail), the Café Sant Jaume is one of only few in Valencia closely following the original recipe (others are: Café Infanta, Horchateria El Collado and obviously recently re-opened Café Madrid).
For those unfamiliar – Agua de Valencia is a cocktail made from cava (local bubbling white wine), freshly squeezed orange juice, small amount of sugar and mixture of liquors. Traditionally the latter is a mix of vodka and gin, but bartenders often try to “improve” the “godly elixir of pleasure” using their own “secret” alcoholic blends.
Café’s interior next to the bar is relatively small with place for only one table, but the narrow passage leads to the room behind the bar and larger space at the first floor that in the past served as the pharmacy’s storage room. In a case of bad weather, they are more than ready to provide right environment for meetings with drinks and friends (or combining it in one word- for “friendly-drinks”). Do not forget however, that Valencian winter is warm and sunny. For these reasons, dozens of tables on the sidewalk along the Café offer an opportunity to tastes the best of the two worlds: drinks (large choice of cocktails, gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, cava, aperitifs, beer, wine, juices – you just name it, or simply a cup of coffee or tea) AND the touch of vibrant life on the streets.
Note that the Café Sant Jaume faces two plazas: Plaza de Sant Jaume (in front) and Plaza del Esparto (along the side). The latter is quite famous (for some rather infamous) for its House of Ghosts (at Plaza del Esparto 6). In early 1900’s the house was subject of official investigations for apparent “paranormal” effects, voices coming from nowhere, noise etc. tormenting its owners. Well, for some this story may add extra “flavor” to drinks at the Café Sant Jaume (some may even decide to order more!). Those interested in the whole story may find details searching for “Plaza del Esparto – Fantasmas de Valencia”.
Address: Café Sant Jaume, Calle Caballeros 51, Valencia
Tel: +34 963-912-401