Hump Day | Vermouth, Sherry, Cava and More. The Forgotten Aperitif Has Its Revival

Here in Spain, the bars are open what seems all day. While many of the shops and markets pause for their afternoon siesta from 2pm-5pm, the bars open their heavy wooden doors to reveal another world inside, a culture based on conversation, meeting with friends and sitting with family. Just the other day, I entered a vermut bar in a tiny side alley of El Raval, Barcelona only to be served by a 65 year old man, drinking next to two retirees and watching a mother (with her mother) trying to hush her screaming toddlers. Meanwhile, the shiny electronic slot machine sat in the corner awaiting its next victim. This is a bodega, or a tasca or maybe even a taberna, and this my friends is where one can learn a lot about society. Come on in, have a drink and "open" your appetite.

Served before a meal, usually with something small and cheap to pick on - like potato chips or olives - aperitivos prepare your taste buds for the food to come, and probably do something funny to your tummy to notify the stomach acids to wake up from their own version of a siesta, but I haven't really done my research on that subject matter.

Cava from Catalonia, vermouths, fino, amontillado (the latter two sherries from Jerez de la Frontera) and other dry light white wines can be served at the hour of the aperitivo. Throughout Spain this ritual takes place from around noon to 2pm, just before the largest meal of the day, a three course offering known as la comida. However in hot spots like Barcelona, the vermut tradition is no longer your grandmother's past-time but a delicious excuse to loiter along the long marble or wooden lined bars or sit outside among the terraces of the city's most old school establishments, sipping fortified wine at a reasonable price.

Amontillado and Fino varieties of Sherry on display with our aperitivo cocktail olives at La Venencia, Madrid, Spain. 

A house made vermouth (vermut) rests on the modernisme bar counter in Barcelona. 

Vintage glass spritzers of sparkling mineral water, which is often served table-side with your vermut - giving you the option to cut the drink to your preference. 

My picks for best Vermouth bars in Barcelona and Madrid: 

La Tieta 
Carrer del Blai 1  (Paral-lel)
08004 Barcelona

Celler de Frank Petersen
Carrer Bisbe Laguarda 6 (Sant Antoni)
08001 Barcelona

Consell de Cent 171
08015 Barcelona 

Taberna Angel Sierra
Calle de Gravina 11 (Chueca)
28004 Madrid, Spain 

For Cava: 

Can Paixano
Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7 (Barceloneta)
08003, Barcelona 

For Sherry: 

La Venencia
Calle de Echegaray 7 (Sol) 
28014 Madrid, Spain

For a little bit of everything: 

Bodega Massana 
Carrer d'Horta 1 (Horta)
08031 Barcelona

Carrer Rossello 442
08025 Barcelona

NEW as of November 2015! Spain's Vermouth Renaissance Map! 

La Venencia on Calle Echegaray, a Mecca of Sherry in Madrid's old town. 


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