Stepping across its threshold, I realized that having waited even two weeks after its opening to have a drink at Justin Severino’s new Lawrenceville venture, Morcilla, seemed a criminally long time. Dark wood ceilings slant cozily inward, with simply carved embellishments that repeat throughout the dining room and bar. Cured meats hang from the ceiling, while warm light from the open kitchen illuminates diners’ faces. As you approach the standing bar, you’ll see a life-sized silver arm reaching from the bar top, standing out against the tiled wall. Artfully arranged garnishes look like tiny bouquets. Morcilla — pronounced more-see-a and named for a type of blood sausage — serves Spanish, particularly Basque, food, and the bar provides an intricate look into that cuisine’s liquid side.
- Photo by Celine Roberts
- Zachary Maddox pours from the life-sized silver arm on Morcilla's bar top.
“We’re serving things that are Spanish or very popular in Spain,” says bartender Zachary Maddox. This means an extensive drink list focused on Spanish cider, or sidra; wine, sherry, and gin and tonics; and, of course, sangria. After researching menus from bars all over Barcelona, Maddox sharpened his focus on the details. “There are all sorts of gin bars throughout Spain where you choose a gin and a tonic, and it comes out with lavish garnishes,” says Maddox. Around 10 gins and house-made tonic make sure that Morcilla takes its G&Ts seriously.
Along with an excellent gin and tonic, sidra is the other thing to order. Spanish ciders are mostly wild-yeast-fermented, cloudy and dry, with a distinct funk and a breadiness that is completely unique. The silver arm, modeled after a human arm, rises a yard above the bar, allowing the cider to be poured from a height, to cut some of its natural carbonation as it breaks against the glass. The arm was sent as a gift from the Trabanco family, who run one of Spain’s premier siderías, after Severino and his wife, Hilary, visited while doing research.