A weekend in…
Sunday, 1pm: La hora del vermut
While most people hold off on consuming alcohol until the late afternoon, Spaniards enjoy their first few drops before even having lunch. Every Sunday at 1pm sharp, bars and terraces fill up with people of all sorts, hungry for some olives and crisps and
Vermut is a fortified wine with a generous bouquet of herbs and botanicals. Most of us mainly associate it with the Italians and their martinis, but Catalans have been using vermut for medical purposes for over a century now. As such, they have developed their very own variant of the sweet liquor, which is quite different from that distilled by their eastern neighbours.
Yet, vermut is more than a drink; it’s the basis for an entire ritual. Accompanied by a small tapa and some good company, a glass of vermut brings communities closer together. In the days of yore, entire villages and city districts would head to church together on Sunday mornings and run straight to the bar as soon as mass ended. These days, church services don’t pull much of a crowd anymore, yet the traditional after-prayer drink has remained.
Over the last few years, la hora del vermut (the hour of vermouth) has become more popular than ever. Some clever marketing courtesy of the distillers, featuring a young, hip crowd drinking a glass of the tipple, made it a hip drink in Spain and beyond. Today, many bars in Barcelona and beyond distil their own proper vermut, which you can only drink in their bar. Not only is it very tasty, but it is also surprisingly cheap. Bottles are sold for anything between seven and 12 euros. But don’t let the humble price fool you. Vermut usually has an ABV of between 14.5 and 21 per cent – so when enjoyed in the one-o’clock sun, this is not for the faint-hearted!