El Anciano Rey de los Vinos, founded in 1909, is one of the oldest taverns of Madrid that are still fully operational. The history of these establishments is long and begins in the eleventh century, with the advance of the Christian kingdoms and the occupation of the territory where today stands Madrid.
The first taverns were established in the district of Latina, in Las Tabernillas street. As time passed, Madrid was proclamed as the capital of the empire, so in order to supply the numerous cabs that were going on there, the taverns proliferated in the area, mainly in the streets of Tudescos and Toledo.
By the year 1600 there were already 400 of these establishments in Madrid, and they had become the center of social relations in the capital.
It must have been a spectacle for any visitor, since the taverns had their doors dyed red, as a symbol of the wine that was sold in them.
A very curious aspect of this story is the birth of the famous “tapas” that are served with the drink, as is still done today in El Anciano Rey de los Vinos, where we serve our famous “cookies”.
There are several theories, but we will refer to one that is worth knowing. It is said that in the twelfth century, reigning Alfonso X El Sabio, he was afflicted with some ailment for which his doctors recommended to take sips of wine. And he did it, but always trying to take some small amount of food. As the results of this treatment were as expected, the King ordered all the taverns of Castile to serve some refreshment with the wine in order to “cover up” the undesired effects of wine.
At the beginning of the 20th century, almost 2,000 taverns (a census that already includes El Anciano Rey de los Vinos) are already counted in Madrid, and the diverse origin of their owners – who came from all the regions of Spain – transformed the city into a gastronomic reference center.
But nothing lasts forever and the taverns are disappearing in favor of new bars and restaurants. However, you can still move in time and savor the atmosphere of those old taverns. Where? In El Anciano Rey de los Vinos, of course!