It’s that time of day. You are not ready for a meal just yet, but most certainly ready for a nice drink to awaken your appetite. Of course a beer or a glass of wine tastes good, but sometimes you feel like something different. Maybe something you haven’t had in a while, something you don’t usually drink at home. So if it’s that time of day, it might be the perfect time to sample a Vermouth, or Vermut in Catalan. You might think, “that’s so old fashioned, why would I order that?!”. But think again…
So what exactly is Vermouth?
Vermouth is a fortified wine that is aromatised with a variety of roots, bark, herbs and spices. White wine is the base. To fortify this, extra alcohol is added and to aromatise it, the herbs, spices and so on. Each distillery has their own secret recipe. To sweeten the drink, caramelised sugar is often added. This gives it a specific, darker colour as well. Vermouth was first made for medicinal purposes. But soon enough it became popular as an aperitif, something served before a meal to stimulate your appetite. First of all in Turin, Italy, in the late 18th century, but later also in other countries, like Spain.
Catalonia has been producing Vermouth for many generations. And though it’s similar to a Martini or a Cinzano, each Vermouth in Catalonia has it’s very own flavour. In recent years, this drink has gained popularity again. After having been forgotten for a while, overshadowed by the wine culture in Spain, you can now find it in every hip bar in Barcelona. People from all walks of life come together for a glass or two. Often you will get your Vermouth served with a slice of orange, sometimes with ice, sometimes with an olive. And for an even more indulgent aperitif, pair your Vermouth with some little appetisers like olives, anchovies or some pinchos. Great salty and sour flavours to complement the bitter sweet taste of a Catalan Vermouth. It’s a bit of a ritual for many locals and a very popular activity on a Sunday afternoon!
If you can’t get enough of this delicious drink, there are shops and bars where you can buy it by the litre, poured from a barrel. And for a very reasonable price at that! (One of our favourites is Gran Bodega Saltó in Carrer de Blesa, 36).
So when you are in Barcelona, do try a glass of Catalan Vermouth and let yourself be surprised by the sweet, yet bitter, almost thick, cola coloured liquid that lingers in your mouth and leaves you wanting more.