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City Guide

Stay True Cities: Valencia

Episode #1
Ballantine's Stay True Cities Valencia

Way before Ibiza first plugged in their speakers, the mecca for European clubbing was in the sunshine city of Valencia. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Romantic strumming of a guitar over Tapas, the global pop takeover of the Macarena and the passionate flamboyance of Flamenco; it’s clear that music is, and always has been, integral to Spanish culture. And Valencia is no different with a rich musical history that comes with its own brand of cool.

Back in the day (or the late 80s and early 90s), this little pocket of Spanish coastline was famous for its Friday-night-to-Monday-morning raves. Dubbed Bacalao; meaning ‘cod’ in Spanish, the name of the rave scene comes from slang used by Valencian DJs to describe good music imported from abroad – this could be anything from New Order to Sisters of Mercy. The local sound was famous for the peerless art of mixing radical genres such as post-punk, new wave, synth pop, gothic rock and the first electronic rock songs we now lovingly call proto-techno.

Like most music bubbles, the scene burst in the mid-90s, mostly fuelled by sensationalist spins form local media that enforced government crackdowns. A sad story that seems to echo across the world.

However, Valencia remains a city of electronic music lovers, and the 800,000 inhabitants are not one to shy away from innovation. From re-routing an ancient river to make room for a lush space dedicated to arts and sciences, to opening the first sister campus of the Berklee College of Music in Boston – flashes of transformation and reinvention is all around. And it goes beyond architectural builds into the everyday life of music, food, and drink.

As Valencia enters its 40th year of celebrating this thriving scene, we hooked up with two local DJs and producers to discover the locals who are pushing the boundaries and innovating from the ground up.

The Insider’s Guide To Valencia

Places to Eat

Mercado Central

No Valencian day can start without a long, cold, drink of fresh orange juice. Situated in the heart of old Valencia, this covered market is one of the oldest, and most beautiful on the continent. Its main draw is the abundance of locally owned kiosks selling local fruit and veg, along with everything the surrounding sea and land has to offer.

Pelayo Gastro Trinquet

You wouldn’t think a local sport was in anyway similar to raw techno, but Pilota, the traditional handball game of Valencia, has a lot more in common with the raw, niché
909-led grooves and 303 lines of the underground sound. They’re both a bit rough around the edges and usually played in sweaty environments, but on the plus side, they have cult followings and local heroes keeping their torches alight.

In Valencia, the hero of Pilota is Chef and Co-owner of Pelayo Gastro Trinquet, Pablo Margós. A man who’s introducing the younger generation to Pilota through their bellies. Building a gastronomic playground made up of the best local Mediterranean ingredients – around 84% of the menu comes from local farmers markets and suppliers – Pablo plays with the wealth of ingredients. Spinning new twists on traditional Valencian recipes to create something truly special. Plan your visit on Thursdays and Saturdays to catch a game of the famed sport, and definitely don’t miss the octopus fried in whisky and garlic with Paella, served in the pan for minimum fuss and maximum delight.

La Lola

Eating Paella in Valencia means setting a new standard for all the future Paella’s you come across. And the highest bar is set if you order the 3 course menu at La Lola. Feast on Valencian delicacies such as Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho, freshly prepared fruits and of course, Paella. Pronounced Pa-YAY-ya for a reason, you get the whole Basque treatment here. Expect the full works with a pan of shrimp, mussels, chicken and rabbit nestled in rice and broad beans.
Seek out owner and manager, Jesus, who was once one of the biggest promoters in the Bacalao scene. Settle in with a cocktail for story time set in the techno heyday, illustrated with his personal collection of vintage nightclub flyers. Culture and food, lovely.

Where to Drink


Full disclosure, when we’re not drinking whisky in the city, you’ll find us kicking back at this café drinking its famous Agua de la Valencia. A thirst quenching mix of freshly squeezed orange juice, Prosecco and a heady mix of clear spirits. It’s a must visit for the décor, the warm service and a jug of the good stuff –because there’s no way you’ll stop at just one glass.


In a country full of beer and G&T drinkers, it takes some serious guts to open up a cocktail bar. But that’s exactly what Sandra and Diana, owners of La Manera, did after falling in love with theValencia.

Self-proclaimed ‘ice-breakers’ of the city, the ladies have perfectly curated the décor, food and drink to bring in a new community of foodies and cocktail connoisseurs. Walk past at your own peril.

RZA in front of Ballantine's Glenburgie Distillery

Stay True

We support those who stay true to themselves in all parts of life, those who do what feels right to  them no matter what others think. After all, as long as you Stay True to you, there’s no wrong way.

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