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Vermouth in Barcelona

Vermouth is more than a drink in Catalonia. It’s an agreeable custom related to good food and a taste for relaxed conversation between friends. Vermouth means wormwood, which is herbal base of this drink, in addition to other tonic substances that make it pleasant and perfumed and the wine that makes it ideal for cocktails.


Red vermouth contains more than forty herbal extracts, among which are flowers, roots and fruit. It is said that its formula is so secret that only four people know it and the actual recipe is stored in a bank safe in Geneva. To make it, the herbs are mixed in a container that is stirred twice a day for two weeks, then sugar and wine are added. Then it is left so that the flavors develop.

The quality of the vermouth depends on the wine that is used. The best from abroad are in Italy, but the ones from Catalonia are equally good. It makes a wonderful aperitif for anyone who has a problem with weight, since they contain herbs that produce the sensation of satiety which can decrease appetite.

“Going out for a glass of vermouth” was a Catalan custom which was widespread on Sunday at noon after mass ended. While the women prepared lunch, the men ate olives and some snacks while sipping vermouth and commenting on the day. And because of its sweet taste it was also the liquor women preferred for their cocktail hour. Over time the custom began to disappear, Sunday Masses were no longer a family activity and modern life has transformed many of the customs. Today, many young people have rediscovered drinking vermouth when meeting with friends.

  • There are nice drinks that can be mixed with vermouth, but if you do not want to go to any trouble, just add sparkling water and a slice of grapefruit and you’ll have a refreshing drink to enjoy on warm summer evenings.
  • To enjoy vermouth with a historical air, there’s nothing better than the Bodega Saltó, in Poble Sec. With origins from a hundred years ago in an anarchist neighborhood of dancers and sailors, this bar has retained a particular style and appeal. It was a place where women used to buy wine in bulk for home use. It was also where the dancers of the Paralelo drank vermouth before their shows. It survived the Civil War and the dictatorship, and when it was about to go under (in 2001) it was saved by Lidia and José Luis. Today, it is a must for enjoying vermouth in Barcelona. It’s located in Blesa street, number 36.
  • La Cala del Vermut, in the Gothic Quarter, is a very small but charming place. They offer a great variety of vermouth. It’s located in the Calle de las Magdalenas, number 6.
  • In the Bar Bodega Quimet, located at number 23 in Vic Street, in the Gracia neighborhood, you can try their tasty sausages while enjoying a delicious vermouth aperitif.