Doing a Vermouth - Gastro Obscura
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Ritual & Medicinal

Doing a Vermouth

In Catalonia, the fortified wine has its own weekend ritual.

While the history of vermouth in Spain is not as long as its history in Italy, a version has been made in Catalonia, particularly in the city of Reus, for more than a hundred years. Most people think of vermouth as an ingredient in a martini or a Manhattan, but in Catalonia, they drink their local style straight or on the rocks (if it is cut with soda, it is very slight). 

The Catalan version of this herb-laden fortified wine is usually sweeter than other styles and often served with a slice of lemon or orange, and an anchovy-stuffed green olive. Rosé and white vermouth are both made in Catalonia, but the most traditional ones are red. The custom of fer un vermut (literally “to do a vermouth”) is traditionally something locals do around lunchtime on Saturday or Sunday. On Sundays, it is often the custom to drink vermouth after going to church to awaken the appetite for lunch. Drinkers usually enjoy their vermouth with some small snacks such as pickles, olives, and potato chips. This tradition has recently seen a resurgence in trendy parts of Barcelona where specialist vermouth bars have become the place to be seen during the day.

But once the sun goes down, everyone will have moved on to other meals or drinks of choice. If you want to be recognized as a foreigner, just order a vermouth in the evening.

Need to Know

For a more traditional experience, look for bodegues or tavernas that store their vermouth in wooden barrels.

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Contributed by
Dr Alan P Newman Dr Alan P Newman
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