Vermouth is not just a martini ingredient. Chefs & bartenders love to drink it like the Spaniards -- as an aperitif. The Spanish vermouths are some of the more traditional styles of vermouth produced in Europe, but it doesn’t mean they all taste the same. There is a whole range of flavors and styles to meet everyone’s tastes and uses.
ATXA VINO VERMOUTH (BLANCO, ROJO)
"This is a traditional recipe and meant to be sipped on its own with a garnish," recommends Importer André Tamers. Made since 1831 by the Acha family for generations in the Spanish Basque Country, the Blanco’s botanicals include wormwood, gentian and bitter orange. Producer Gabriel Acha adds his notes, “It’s all about waking up your appetite and downing these with some olives or banderillas [Spanish appetizers].”
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CASA MARIOL VERMUT (NEGRE)
This is a dark brown, mahogany, rich vermouth produced in Terra Alta in Spain. It's made from Macabeu wine with unripe green walnuts, spices, and local herbs from Matarraña area of Spain that is aged in wood. It has lots of herbal notes like thyme and rosemary, along with spice, a bitterness balanced with a sweetness.
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PERUCCHI (ROJO, BLANCO)
Made since the 19th century in Cataluña, this is the first vermouth produced in Spain. They are still using the same tubs, presses and casks to make the vermouth today. It started coming into the US a little over 5 years ago. The Blanco is a spicy sweet version with notes of ginger and honey and the Rojo is bitter, earthy and woody with Christmas spices.
PRIMITIVO QUILES (ROJO)
Think sweet, balanced vermouth with notes of grass, nuts, bark, baking spices. From the Alicante region of Spain by one of the great figures of Spanish wine. Senor Don Primitivo Quiles' bodega in Monovar is the oldest in Alicante and has been there since 1780. The vermouth is created using a secret family recipe of fennel, sage, clove, and other botanicals.
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LACUESTA VERMUT (ROJO + RESERVA)
Hand-made vermouths by Martínez Lacuesta since 1937. The base vermut rojo is made with 30 different herbs, spices and botanicals. It's herbal with hints of orange and cinnamon. The reserva is aged in French oak for 7 months and is intensely colored and aromatic.
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BUIL & GINE VERMUT
Organically-grown grapes from two different farmers are used to make this vermut along with macerated herbs and a small amount of sugar. The vermouth is aged for a minimum of two years in old oak barrels using a solera system. The result is intense, full of aromas, sweet, but with a slight bitter finish.
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Where to Drink Vermouth
Serving Basque-influenced fare in the East Village by chef Jonah Miller. They make their own red, white, and rosé vermouths (Huertas Vermút) that they serve traditionally and in a variety of cocktails, including the El Conquistador made with rosé vermouth, rum, Pacharan, sweet lemon, egg white.
Pro Tip: "The restaurant is broken into two parts, one super casual with pintxos, which is like Spanish dim sum. In the back, they serve the Menú Del Día (menu of the day). Chef Jonah Miller shops the greenmarket religiously, so his menu changes every day. On Tuesday nights, they serve $1 pintxos at the bar." (Restaurateur Wilson Tang of Nom Wah Tea Parlor)
107 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
T: 212.228.4490 | huertasnyc.com
A small, bustling wine bar featuring traditional tapas, a Spanish wine list, Spanish vermouths, and vermouth-based cocktails. Order a Vermut Spritz, made with Atxa Blanco or Rojo vermouths mixed with sparkling water, and a grapefruit or orange twist.
Pro Tip: “ The best Spanish wine list in the city.” (Sommelier & Restaurateur Joe Campanale of Fausto)
EL QUINTO PINO
Chef / owner Alex Raij serves tapas in a super charming, 400-square foot storefront, with a marble bar and antique tiles. Grab a table or eat and drink Spanish-style, standing up.
Pro Tip: "The Uni Toast is ridiculously delicious and a must eat. Also, munch on those fried chickpeas with some ham." (Chef Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird, Legacy Records, Pasquale Jone)
Chefs and owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette bring their popular Boston tapas bar to Chelsea. Located in the former Nabisco Factory, you enter on the corner of 11th Avenue and 15th Street. The menu features many small plate sharing dishes, lots of Spanish Gin & Tonics, a deep sherry list, and vermouth.
Pro Tip: "Everything here is really good. A few dishes I've tried are the Erizos Con Caviar, which is a spoon with caviar, Maine uni, Iberico jamon and a quail egg together. It's really good. The paella is really good and the drinks are awesome. I like the cava served out of the porrón, which is a teapot-shaped alcohol dispenser that they rock in Spain and they pour the wine right into your mouth." (Chef Matt Lambert of The Musket Room)
They serve tapas from different regions of Spain, like Galicia, Andalucia, the Basque Country, and Catalonia. You can try their Primitivo Quiles (red) or Destilerías Acha ‘Atxa’ vino (white) vermouths.
Pro Tip: "Serving good food in a great environment." (Lorenzo García-Iglesias Soto of Bodgas Tradicion)