The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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David Rios’ Aroma

David Rios represented Spain at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Go to Jigger cocktail bar and you will have the comfort of knowing you are one of very few visitors. This does not reflect anyway on its charms and qualities however, it’s because this Bilbao bar is brand new, having only opened its doors in September 2013.

We can guarantee it’s not going to stay quiet for long. Just off Bilbao’s Grand Via, in the languid shadows of the Guggenheim, Jigger occupies the site of a classic Bizkaia bar, with its bijou proportions, wood-laden interior and hospitable atmosphere designed for unwinding. It is the third venture of brothers Jorge and David Rios Aguilar, who are well known in Bilbao for their award-winning G&Ts, barrel-aged cocktails and signature serves – so much so that there is a waiting list on certain drinks.

The Bartender

David Rios, 37, has worked in the industry for 18 years and takes much inspiration from things that surround him in the Basque Country. ‘I have a mystical side,’ says David, ‘I create ideas for drinks from the things around me: the sea, the mountains, my family.’ He tries, when possible, to work with regional ingredients, ‘because they are part of our essence’, and focuses on quality rather than quantity in his venues. David has had plenty of experience in excellence, after working as maître d’ and sommelier at Mugaritz, which can boast a small constellation of (three) Michelin stars. That said, his main focus is on relaxation and hospitality, and his mantra reads: ‘Enjoy and Smile.’

The Drink

Aroma was developed from another of David’s cocktails, Rivers, and typifies his will to endlessly evolve in his craft and his recipes. The name is a composite, taken from those of David’s young twins, Aroa and Markel. It compounds the honey, spice, fruit and oak palate of Zacapa 23 with the tropical richness of coffee and coconut. The drink is delivered in flavoured layers, with the robustness of the main mix being sipped through a light coconut mousse to meld into a complex and intensely aromatic whole.


The Technique

Zacapa 23 • 50ml
Coffee liqueur • 10ml
Orgeat (almond) syrup • 10ml
Coconut cream (or single cream as an alternative)
Coffee bean and mint leaf to garnish
Contains 18 grams of alcohol per serve

Shake all the ingredients together (except the coconut cream) and pour into a wine glass. Shake the cream in a shaker to give it volume and gently pour it over a barspoon to form a layer on top.

Garnish with a grated coffee bean and then rest a mint leaf and whole coffee bean on top.

Aroma was designed as an accompaniment to Crème Catalan or Crème Brûlée, so it is best enjoyed with such a dessert, or even as a last course in its own right after supper.

David’s Insider’s Guide to Bilbao

Place to stay
Castillo de Arteaga

Place to eat

Place to relax
The beach in Sopelana

Place to lounge
La Casa del Bandido

Place to Dance
The Image

Place to shop

Place to visit
Guggenheim Museum

Place to see
The Basque Coastline

Images by Martin Mendez