Tapa Thursday: Vermouth

vermouth in Spain

My biggest ambition in life is to become a Spanish abuelo. Who wouldn’t want to spend the days leisurely reading a paper in the bar down the street, sucking down a vermouth while looking adorable? I’ve already got the vermouth obsession down, after all.

My first taste of vermouth was actually on a food tour. I didn’t think I’d learn anything I didn’t know about Spanish cuisine, but an early stop at the Mercado de San Miguel’s vermouth bar proved that I had a lot to learn, and a new favorite beverage.

Vermouth Bar Madrid

Vermouth is making a comeback hard in Spain, much like G&Ts not so long ago. Pop-up bars called vermuterías, tastings and pairings and even the Adrià brothers of El Bullí fame are spearheading a sort of vermouth renaissance. While this beverage never really disappeared, it’s become the drink of choice for hipsters and for me anytime I’m in Madrid or Barcelona.

On my last trip to the Ciudad Condal, I happened upon a small bottega, or local watering hole, where vermouth was poured from a tap in the wall. No frills, no sky-high price tag, despite being a mere 150 meters from tourist hell. The girl behind the bar filled my glass, shoved a few mussels and a toothpick my way and charged me 1,85€. Other patrons trickled in, drinking the sweet wine by the glass or simply asking the bar keep to fill up old water bottles. 

The Novio even came back from the capital with a gift from my soon-to-be familia política recently: a bottle of vermouth with its flavorless soda water.

Vermouth at Cafe Comercial

What it is:  Fortified wine has been drunk for more than three millennia, often for medicinal purposes. Its name comes from the German ‘wermut,’ or wormwood,  

At its most basic, vermouth is a young fortified wine brewed with aromatic herbs like cardamom and and cinnamon and occasionally its namesake, wormwood. Sweet varieties also contain a fair amount of sugar – around 20% – whereas dry vermouths contain less than 4%.

Goes great with: Vermouths come in sweet and dry varieties, but salty snacks like potato chips, cured meats, olives or mussels in azabeche sauce are tart and will offset the sweetness or bring out the dry flavors. Typically, vermouth is consumed much like fino sherry wine in the South – as a before-meal drink, and most often at the weekend.

Where to find it in Seville: I have yet to find vermouth anywhere but the grocery store, and even then, it’s commercially branded martini mixes. I’ve yet to try smaller specialty shops, though sherry seems to be preferred to vermouth in these parts. You can find it for sale in 2.5 liter jugs at Bodegas Salado in nearby Umbrete for 7,20€.

 Are you a vermouth drinker? Any preferred watering holes, whether in Seville or further afield?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Only in the past year have I started drinking vermouth, and it’s taken me a while to come around to its unique, herby flavor. But now I’m a big fan, and always feel like the HUGEST snob whenever I order un vermú and people ask “what’s that?” Hahaha. I actually just bought the cheapest 1L bottle of white vermouth I could find a few days ago to use for cooking instead of white wine; one of my friends raves and raves about how it really adds a nice depth of flavor to sauces and stir-frys so I’m excited to start using it!
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..Photo Post: Monte do Viso in Santiago de Compostela, SpainMy Profile

  2. GASP i didn’t know it wasn’t a huge thing outside of Barcelona or Madrid!! As I’ve also become obsessed with vermouth this past year, I don’t know how I would go back to the dark age. Regular wine and beer just seems so….blah now.
    Jenny | A Thing For Wor(l)ds recently posted..Rideshares and Five-Hour Silences, and Why You Should Study LanguageMy Profile

  3. I am such a fan of vermouth! I’m actually surprised it hasn’t taken off more in Sevilla, as it’s huge in Barcelona and Madrid right now. My favorite places are the super old bars that they’ve reformed, so they have some of the ‘old man bar’ feel to them but are still modern and cool.
    Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) recently posted..3 Quirky Road Trip Stops in SpainMy Profile

  4. Like some of your other commenters, after I discovered vermouth in Barcelona I barely ever drink wine or beer now! I love how every bar serves vermouth in its own way and each has its distinctive taste, either with an olive and/or orange slice. Do they serve it with an olive down south? I was in Madrid a couple weeks ago and I was surprised to hear that they don’t put an olive in their vermouth in Madrid! So many great vermouth bars here in Barcelona, it’s hard to pick just one… I think if I had to choose one place I would pick the bar of the Filmoteca of Barcelona :)

    • Cat Gaa says:

      I now have a place on my list – thanks for the rec!

      I have never actually had vermouth down south, but I’d imagine they’d come with an olive!

  5. Thank you for this article! I went to Seville and I was so surprised to find Vermouth in a bar, I thought It was only in Barcelona. Seville is so beautiful and even more with a glass of Vermouth !


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