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Vermouth: the happiest hour

Discover the bars where siphon and snacks are practically a religion

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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.

Restaurants

La Bodegueta d'en Miquel

icon-location-pin Nou Barris

This bodega first opened in Nou Barris more than 50 years ago. Miquel took it over in 2007 and has kept all the original furniture, the old barrels and even the floor, stained with vinegar and wine. On weekday mornings it fills up with senior citizens, who sit by the window with a beer in hand and gaze out over the sparse vegetation that makes up the Jardins de l'Alfàbia. Inside the shop, there are small blackboards announcing the prices of tins, bottles and preserves, with the offers of the week hanging in buckets. Neighbours come to the bodega with plastic bottles in bags so as not to spill the wine – a practice that has almost disappeared into memory. Miquel knows the area very well, and says that he serves anchovies and mixed tapas 'at a reasonable price'.

Polleria Fontana
© Ivan Giménez

Polleria Fontana

icon-location-pin Vila de Gràcia

Polleria Fontana isn't just a common chicken eatery. It's also not that close to the Fontana metro station. Instead it's a tapas bar/restaurant between the Fontana and Joanic metro stations. Owner/chef Nil Ros and his team are committed to traditional Catalan cuisine and home-made dishes using his granny's recipes. Everything is made fresh, and we found both the classic dishes and the tapas were well executed. They even do paellas.

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Restaurants, Sandwich shop

La Pepita

icon-location-pin Gràcia

You won’t find anyone called Pepita behind the counter or at the bar. But you will find Sofia and Andreu, the owners of this place with unusually long operating hours. Eat when you want: breakfast, lunch (special menus available at good prices), snacks and dinner, where the star turns are the 'pepitas', inspired by the famous pepito pork cuts, from the classic loin to some surprising creations. La Pepita is also a bar with a predilection for gin and tonics (they’ll make you a half-measure if you so desire) and their house vermouth, made up of gin, orange and soda.

La Vermuteria del Tano
© La Vermuteria del Tano
Restaurants

La Vermuteria del Tano

icon-location-pin Gràcia

OK, so Paris has its pavement bars and quaint lampposts. But we’ve got bodegas like Tano's. A door covered in stickers, marble tables, the smell of long-gone cigars still somehow lingering, and the young woman with the Sunday paper under her arm who chats away as she sips on her vermouth and snacks on anchovies, olives and cockles. They must be starving in Paris.

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Restaurants

La Plata

icon-location-pin El Gòtic

Also known locally as ‘Los Pescaditos’ for their delicious, freshly-fried fish. They serve Perucchi vermouth, one of the oldest brands in Catalonia. A Sunday aperitif here will make you feel like a king.

Senyor Vermut
© Maria Dias
Restaurants

Senyor Vermut

icon-location-pin La Nova Esquerra de l'Eixample

Run by the Miralles family, Senyor Vermut is a neighbourhood place in the Eixample Esquerre that practises the noble art of the aperitif. On the afternoon I went along, the tipple of the day was Negroni, and I set things rolling with this classic cocktail, one part gin, one part red vermouth, and one Campari. They say a Negroni awakens the appetite, and so it did. The Senyor Vermut menu of tapas and small plates isn’t all that different from what you’d find at many a more magnificent establishment, but at the Miralles family bar everything has the Miralles touch. There was a peach gazpacho, all kinds of croquettes – the wild mushroom ones are fantastic – a traditional 'capipota' (calf’s head and foot stew) with the same rich flavours as the ones my grandma used to make, interesting if not superlative 'patatas bravas', and a 'broqueta moruno' – skewered pork kebab – marinated in oil and spices. I’m already compiling a wish list for the next visit, when I’ll come by bike to burn off the calories. 

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Bars and pubs

La Tieta

icon-location-pin El Poble-sec

Chickpeas with prawns, tasty potato omelette, mushrooms with garlic and parsley, amazing olives – the problem is knowing where to start. La Tieta is just a place with a marble bar that offers good wine, bottles of vermouth and an endless flow of draught beer. You won’t find any classics on the wine list – this week they’re in love with Mallorcan wine, and next week they’re crazy about Galician wine. There’s nothing unusual here, no secret, just good traditional food made from fresh ingredients and with skill and enthusiasm.

Bars and pubs, Wine bars

Bodega 1900

icon-location-pin Sant Antoni

Albert Adrià provides the brains behind this spot, and his restaurant Tickets is just across the road. You know that with an Adrià at the helm in the kitchen, it's an innovative cuisine they're serving up, even though they try to be true to the flavours that dominated in local food from the early 20th century: the smoked, the salted, the grilled and the pickled. It's a pleasing trip to the past without leaving behind the modern mindset for the 21st-century palate.

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Restaurants

Bar Electricitat

icon-location-pin La Barceloneta

With its warm, neighbourhood feel, this bodega is one of the great vermouth classics in town. Aside from the house vermouth, it also features some of the city's best meat-and-potato 'bombas', tender potato omelettes, and a Russian salad that will make a fan out of anyone.

Bars and pubs, Wine bars

Mitja Vida

icon-location-pin Sant Gervasi - La Bonanova

Fans of sayings and stuffed olives, the Morro Fi locals (blog and bar), there's a new spot for you in Mitja Vida. Much bigger than its predecessor, Mitja Vida has set itself up in Sant Gervasi, right near Plaça de Molina. Around a stainless steel bar, a row of stools and a hunger-inducing counter where they serve up 'mojama' (filleted salt-cured tuna), anchovies, calamares and herring. These are simple things, but done extremely well – the exquisite austerity of a good anchovy and the constant homage to the type of classic bar this town has always known.

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