Vermouth hour has never fallen out of fashion in Barcelona, but in recent years the tradition of gathering with friends to share an afternoon aperitif, and the usual side dishes, has garnered a new generation of devotees and plenty of proprietors only too happy to accommodate. Time Out brings you the modern, as well as the classic, temples of vermouth.
You don’t have to go down to Barceloneta for good fish tapas. On the corner of Sants market, the tiny bar Bodegueta de Cal Pep offers a range of marine snacks that you just can’t refuse: sea snails, crab, razor clams, goose barnacles, dried tuna and other delicacies such as peperini (peppers stuffed with anchovies or cheese) and Torta del Casar soft cheese. Àngel has kept alive the spirit of this place, which opened 20 years ago, while adapting it to modern times. For gourmets of the aperitif.
This bar belongs to the Slow Food movement – they use local, sustainable produce to make the dishes for a menu that is quite short but more than sufficient to satisfy hungry bellies. Their bio-patatas bravas are rightly renowned. As is the outdoor terrace, just in front of the Montjuïc air-raid shelter.
Packed to the rafters with dusty bottles of wine, this classic but minuscule bar makes up for in tapas what it lacks in space. The specialities are 'conservas' (shellfish preserved in tins), which aren't always to non-Spanish tastes, but the 'montaditos' (sculpted tapas served on bread) are spectacular. Try salmon sashimi with cream cheese, honey and soy, or cod, passata and black olive pâté. Get there early for any chance of a surface to put your drink on.
The Mingus is just as much of a rarity among the tourist bars in the Gothic quarter as the black jazz musician Charles Mingus was, a man who dared to play a white man’s instrument back in the day. Compared to all the plastic tapas in the surrounding bars, the Mingus produces tasty meatballs and an amazing ensaladilla rusa. And there’s great beer on tap.
At the Casa Mariol Wine Bar, which is part of the bodega of the same name, you'll have the chance to get to know Suau, which is an version of a drink (a blend of soda and coffee) that was popular in the Ribera de l'Ebre region decades ago. You can also taste cask wines from the Ebre, accompanied by a nice 'clotxa' (bread stuffed with herring, onions, tomatoes and garlic) and then top it all off with delicious cakes from Batea (a town also in the Ebre).
For some time now, the Morro Fi blog has been considered an essential website for those who aspire to keeping their stomachs happy. These one-time explorers of anchovy and secallona havens have set up their own oasis. Working in a tiny space, Marcel serves the aperitifs that he has always wished he could have found in bars. Marcel’s draught beers hide a secret that only you can see if you pay close attention to the hands of this man who is known as the Rimbaud of the beer tap. Two fingers of poetic justice, that’s what I find in each glass.
When Albert Adrià left his tapas bar Inopia, his partner Joan Martínez turned it into the Lolita tapas bar. Safe to say, everything changes, and yet it stays the same. This crowded bar serves eggplant with cane molasses, all kinds of edible delights with the vermouth and delicious treats such as squid croquettes and chicken strips in breadcrumbs.
For all Pere Calders fans – God has heard your prayers. The cul-de-sac named after the writer has recently become home to one of the loveliest spots in Sant Antoni. They have books by the Catalan author, the draught beer flows freely and there’s a selection of tapas that sends shivers of pleasure through the district. Obviously, the best thing to try is the vermouth. They stock four brands, but if you want to try a Priorat, then you should go for the one from Falset. Incidentally, the outdoor terrace is one of the district’s best kept secrets: You’ll just keep coming back.
The friends who launched Red Rocket Bar have also got a pintxos bar going in C/Blai: Es Xibiu benefits by having a Mallorcan in co-owner Bel, as well as a selection of pintxos (similar to tapas, mounted on small pieces of bread) with an unbeatable value for money and a dish of the day. Be sure to try the Mallorcan speciality drink, palo amb sifó. Saturdays at lunchtime mean vermouth hour with music spun by the best rock 'n' soul DJs on the national scene.