Madrileños love nothing more than a glass of vermouth, especially at the pre-lunch ‘hora de vermut‘ when this fortified wine is enjoyed with olives or tapas. For many years the firm favourite of older people, vermouth is experiencing something of a resurgence. Here’s where to try Madrid’s favourite tipple.
This little hole in the wall bar, nestled on a more touristy street, is a slice of authentic, old Madrid right in the centre. Its wooden counter and panelling – as well as its small size – give it a cosy atmosphere. Ask for a vermut de grifo (vermouth on tap); it is served the traditional way with an ice cube and wedge of orange. Keep an eye out for Ricla’s tapas dishes, scrawled on a chalk board behind the bar.
You’ll notice that this no frills bar, just steps away from Plaza Mayor, gets packed with locals, who mainly flock here for its speciality – bacalao rebozado – thick and juicy cod covered in a golden batter at €3 a piece. Wash it down with a glass of vermouth and enjoy the busy atmosphere. Definitely one of the most authentic bars in the centre of Madrid.
Opened in 1827, stepping through the door of Casa Alberto is like stepping back in time. It is located right in the heart of Barrio de Las Letras, Madrid’s literary neighbourhood, where Miguel de Cervantes wrote Don Quixote just a few doors down. Grab a spot at the bar and order a vermut de grifo along with a ración (a bigger tapas portion) of Casa Alberto’s mouth wateringly good meatballs.
A more recent addition to Madrid’s vermouth scene, Taberna La Concha opened its doors in 1996 on Cava Baja, the city’s famous ‘tapas street’ in the La Latina neighbourhood, right near the centre. It is a popular hangout with locals, who perch at the bar to enjoy a glass of vermouth. Try La Concha’s delicious prawn toasts as an accompaniment.
This little bar in the La Latina barrio was bought by Francisco Gerardo García in 1957, and is today run by his two sons. It offers vermouth on tap, as well as generous free tapas and a good variety of raciónes to share. Don’t miss trying some of its wide range of Spanish cheeses.
Another one of Malasaña’s oldest traditional bars, Casa Camacho is nothing like the hipster bars surrounding it, but is a favourite with young and old alike. Huge barrels of vermouth sit behind the bar; this place gets through a lot of the drink. It offers traditional vermut de grifo, as well as a Yayo – vermouth mixed with gin and soda water (for only €2, about US$2.28). Your drink will come with a small tapa.
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