You’d think that being surrounded by banana plantations the nearest bar to us would be a quaint little rustic place where the plantation workers swapped their machetes for a glass of vino tinto but no, this is Tenerife where expectations are often confounded.
A short -ish stroll to the end of the banana road and up the hill opposite takes us to Puerto’s, and possibly even Tenerife’s poshest bar, Abaco, a grand 18th century mansion which is a cocktail bar and live music venue at night and a museum and folklore centre during the day. Of course to get there we have to pass a restaurant which must be in the running for one of the nicest restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz, Ganania, but that’s used more for weddings and celebrations.
Despite living so close to this wonderful sounding place, we’d never actually been to the bar at night even though it sounded incredible – don’t ask me why.
On Friday night we decided to rectify this, mainly because I’d read a tweet on twitter from jazz singer, Anna Rodriguez that she was performing there. A quick check of Abaco’s website showed that it was free concert (always a bonus) so at around 22.00 we set off along the banana road to the bar where we’d heard fruit and vegetables littered the floor.
The first sight of Abaco is impressive. The mansion could rival any of the Casas de Balcones in La Orotava, but I’m willing to bet that there are any number of visitors to Puerto de la Cruz who don’t know it exists. The front door opens directly onto the main road (it’s quiet so no real danger of doing a Sam Tyler as you step outside) and sure enough the vestibule was decorated in rich hues and with tastefully arranged piles of fruit everywhere. Like many of these mansions, stepping inside was like entering the Tardis; the vestibule led to a sprawling courtyard and gardens with tables tucked away in secret romantic corners. It was stunning; the only problem is that apart from another couple at a table it was empty and we felt a bit like intruders as we explored.
The concert was being held in the cocktail bar where at least there were a few other people, but it hadn’t started yet, so we grabbed a table outside to admire the beautiful old building and grounds from the inside. Within seconds a waitress turned up and handed us a drinks menu – it became apparent why such an incredible bar wasn’t packed to the gunwales. The average price of cocktails was €8; the cheapest bottle of wine €20 and if you wanted to go for it, a bottle of gin or vodka would set you back €65.
When the waitress returned I meekly asked for two glasses of vino tinto and then Andy and I discussed how much we thought it would cost, settling on €5 per glass based on the prices in the menu. To be fair, although the price of a bottle sounded high, when you work out how many drinks you would get out of it, it isn’t that excessive.
At around 22.30 Anna Rodriguez started her set and we moved inside. Anna’s got an excellent voice and she sang some numbers which varied from Bebel Gilberto songs to jazz classics to a slowed down to a crawl version of The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’. It was laid back stuff, a bit too laid back for us, but the bar cat liked it and settled down for a snooze in one of the more comfortable bar chairs.
I can’t say that we’ll become regulars at Abaco – it is immaculately decorated and quite unique and definitely worth a visit, but it’s a bit too quiet and tasteful for us (not that the staff were fussy or pretentious – the service was excellent and very friendly). That’s probably because we’re not refined and are used to the almost manic chatter in the Canarian bars in town. Personally I think it’s better suited to a more mature clientele (hark at Peter Pan here) who enjoy a bit of style in sumptuously serene surroundings, but I could be being unfair here. We left at about midnight and the younger Canarians don’t get going till then, so it might have livened up a bit later.
Price wise, although €8 might seem a lot for a cocktail, they turned out to be more works of art than drinks and were served in huge goblets and looked two to three times the size of your average cocktail. And as for our wine, it was €3 a glass which, considering the uniqueness of the venue, live music and a complimentary goblet of mixed nuts which was refilled as soon as it was emptied, wasn’t bad value at all.