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

- Alcoholic Drinks · Commandaria · Fortified Wine · Vermouth · Marsala Wine · Wine styles · Wine · Aromatised Wine · Laos · Spain · Barcelona

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!

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