Recently, I discovered something new. After just one sip, I realized I had been missing out on something truly dynamic and different. My newly educated mind tingled with the drink’s alcohol heft, its subtle sweetness, and most of all, its interesting interplay of herbs and spices. Vermouth. How had I not known about it? Those privy to it, may call me a fool.
My tapa, pinched olives and octopus, with my vermouth in the bokeh background.
I was on an extensive foodies stroll, called Madrid Food Tour, when our savvy guide Lauren introduced the small group to vermouth, or as I’ll call it now, my new favorite aperitif. We had been buzzing around the swirling crowds of people in El Mercado de San Miguel, munching down gourmet bites from the Iberian peninsula. We shuffled along, sampling skewers of marinated olives with chunks of octopus, classic Cordoba salmorejo (the best I’ve ever had), cured tuna tapas drizzled with olive oil, and croquettes filled with a particular goat cheese from Catalonia (its proper name unfortunately unknown to me).
As a Madrid expat, I had grown accustomed to raising my food bar. I flock (when the budget allows) to places that serve classic Spanish cuisine with a twist, take La Musa, for example. However, vermut or vermú (in Spanish) was a classic I had downright neglected.
Defined as a fortified wine, vermouth’s slight secretness comes from its mysterious blend. Its botanicals can be a mix of roots, bark, flowers, spices, seeds or herbs. Usually associated in America as a complement to whiskey in a Manhattan or its equivalent to gin in a classic martini, vermouth plays another role here in Spain. Served from the tap in many Madrid bars, vermouth is a great alternative to the house wine. Just like I sampled on my tour, it’s usually served neat and finished with a slice of orange.
If you make the trip to Madrid, buy a bottle (or three) of it here. Just as my food guru, Lauren, advises as well. The subtleties of each creation sanction it. And here the range is more than just sweet or dry, especially if you partner it with one of Madrid’s savory bites.
Vermú de grifo, porfa.
Below, more Madrid Food Tour marvels.
The (perfect) salmorejo
Jamón, Jamón shopping
Fresh, hot churros con chocolate at Madrid’s best spot, San Ginés Chocolatería