Sunday, January 5, 2014

drinking vermut in Madrid

I did not know vermouth was such a big thing here in Spain. We stumbled on a bar in Madrid, an old one (whose floor apparently hasn't been washed since the early '90's ... 1890's), where they pour vermut out of taps, topping it with a bit of water. Served with nuts, I almost didn't know what to do with it. You drink it ... straight?

I didn't particularly care for the vermouth from here (a bit too sweet, cloying), but we had examples from other places that were really interesting. Perfumed and floral, the best ones had a complexity and balance that was very unexpected. You know, they do this thing called the 'vermouth hour' in this country. It's when you take a vermouth and some tapas before lunch. Some liquid courage before sitting down at the lunch table with the mother-in-law, you see. And we all know that if the Spanish see a chance to sit in the sun, have a drink, and socialize, they'll take it.

There's a lot of charm in vermouth, in drinking one - a throwback, especially when taken in this type of unadulterated, unmixed form. The best Spanish vermouths are produced in Catalunya, apparently - something I'd love to explore a bit, but after the holidays, money has gotten really tight. There's a few bars around Barcelona that are supposed to do vermut de la casa really well.

Amazing, learned something new these holidays. So interesting to see that Europe doesn't just produce beverages - there's an entire culture around them as well, both in their production and consumption. They certainly do truly define the term enjoying a drink. I'm in soooo much trouble here ...

Flying out early next morning to Andalusia!! Sevilla first, then Granada. Still feeling quite sick, but ready for another adventure!


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