Since I’ve been here in Barcelona, it seems that the midday vermouth is the official start of the weekend. With a nice glass of this aromatic fortified wine, algo para picar and friends, sitting at a terrace or enjoying a live set in a bar, that’s the local way to welcome el finde, the end of the week.
Vermouth is seen as an aperitif and usually taken at noon, although your weekend fer el vermut (do the vermouth) might turn into a lazy afternoon and beyond. Whenever you choose to sip, vermut casero (negre) over ice, with either the sparkle of the orange peel or the contrasting saltiness of an olive, is the way to go. And if there isn’t a house vermouth on offer, you may want to select a locally produced El Bandarra, or Casa Mariol, or Yzaguirre…
Whatever fills your glass should be accompanied by something to nibble on, which might mean: almonds, crisps, anchovies, sardines, olives, cured meats or tuna, local cheeses or seafood. Due to the long, late lunch this ritual is intended to arouse an appetite for, it doesn’t usually do to hit the tapas menu too, never mind the mains.
Where to Go?
I like my nearby Lilo Cafè but also am a fan of Chicha Limoná on Passeig de San Joan and of the Bormouth in El Born. Also, of the Musical Vermouth Sundays of La Porca, in Poble Sec, and its neighbour Gran Bodega Saltó. And here you have a great vermouth route crisscrossing lots of districts in Barcelona.
Types of Vermouth
Since we are here, I should add that the black vermouth is the most consumed, here, and it’s the one you want to order. In the black, the aromatic herbs and caramel notes predominate.
Then, the white vermouth is said to be the most consumed worldwide, has French origins, is softer and has ingredients such as citrus or vanilla. The rosé, the newest of them all, is the ideal for those who still do not have the palate accustomed to the aromatic notes of both white and black. And finally the dry one is mostly used in mixology and has a fruity flavour.
A Brief History of the Vermouth
It seems that the first vermouth was taken in ancient Greece, where mixing and macerating the wine with spices, drugs and aromatic plants was the ideal remedy to cure certain diseases. Other theories say that it was Hippocrates, also in ancient Greece who created this drink and drank it for centuries under the name of Hippocratic wine.
After this, and passing through Italy and other Mediterranean countries, we find many more references of this drink. In all of them, it coincides in the medicinal power of this drink where it was mainly mixed absinthe or “wermut” (in German), a word from which the concept would derive years later and was infused with herbs and aromatic plants.
Later, in the eighteenth century, Antonio and Beneditto Carpano created in Milan what we know as vermouth today. To the wine, sugar is added, together with alcohol, caramel and other aromatic herbs or spices to intensify, personalize and give different nuances of flavour. In the 19th century, Luigi and Guiseppe Cora industrialized the concept and, that is when different product brands were born.
Gran Bodega Saltó opened 15 years ago in Poblesec. This surreal decor is really fascinating. They have quality live concerts and great vermouth.
Vermouth is quite musical here in Barcelona. Many bars have live DJ sets still many others have live music. And this is one unique place to experience some live jazz: