Vermut’s time you know where it comes from this fun habit

In Spain, everyone knows “vermouth time” and knows what “make vermouth” means. It is one of our most deeply rooted social traditions and it is nothing other than that moment with your friends and family, when you sit on a terrace to have an aperitif. Usually, that moment of tranquility accompanied by some olives or some chips is usually washed down with a vermouth.

But make no mistake, vermouth time is not typically Spanish. On the contrary, throughout Europe they have their vermouth hour, only here we go a little to the contrary. In Spain, the famous “vermouth hour” usually takes place between 12 noon and 1 pm, always before lunch. In the rest of Europe, on the other hand, this “vermouth hour” is just before dinner.

Vermouth time, before lunch or before dinner?

Although all hours are good to enjoy the best vermouth, in Spain it is always usually taken before eating. Normally, as we have explained, people gather on a terrace just before meals, between 12 noon and 1 pm. Although this seems to have always been the case, historians cannot agree and, today, there are several theories about it.

The first one points out that in Spain, before the Civil War of 1936, vermouth time was the same as in the rest of Europe, just before dinner. However, in post-war times, poverty and want meant that most people had to look for more than one job. This made people’s usual schedules change completely and differ greatly from those of the rest of Europe. 

The Spanish, who had two jobs, had to adapt their schedules to those of their jobs. For this reason, the food was moved around two in the afternoon, the space of time between the first shift in the morning and the one at night. At the same time, dinner was relegated to a snack or snack at the end of the long work day, usually well into the afternoon or even at night.

This not only changed the time of the vermouth, but it has also deeply marked the Spanish schedules and habits, which are usually very different from those of the rest of the Europeans. 

The other theory, more accepted by most Spanish traditionalists and ethnologists, places the “vermouth hour” at mid-morning, since it was the time when families left mass on Sundays. During the dictatorship, back in the 50s, the first “middle class” appeared in Spain, humble families, but with good jobs that could afford small luxuries. One of these luxuries was sitting on a terrace on Sundays after mass to have an aperitif before going to eat. 

What is taken at vermouth time?

Although vermouth was traditionally the drink that was usually drunk at “vermouth time”, in recent times, beer has largely taken its place as an aperitif. 

Actually, the “vermouth time”, whether in the morning or in the afternoon, is a way to “whet your appetite”. You can have vermouth, as its name suggests, a beer or even a glass of wine. This is usually accompanied with some chips, some olives or any light snack, such as mussels, cockles or a pintxo.

In Spain, vermouth is traditionally taken accompanied by siphon, which is nothing more than carbonated water. Although in recent times, most bars and restaurants serve it as in the US or the rest of Europe, with ice, a slice of orange and olives or spring onions.

Return to the “vermouth hour”

In Spain, however, during the 1980s and 1990s, the “vermouth hour” was lost and the majority of the population saw it as something outdated. For many years, it was left aside and even the expression “the time of the vermouth” was changed to “the time of the cane”. During this time, beer gained space in aperitifs, relegating vermouth to a discreet background, as a drink “for grandparents” that few dared to order.

It was from the years after the economic crisis, when this tradition has been recovering and gaining strength. A new social current that sought to return to the traditional and authentic, managed to recover this tradition, as well as the consumption of vermouth, which had also been somewhat relegated.

With the rise of these modern currents that seek to return to the traditional, vermouths also regained prominence and, especially, homemade vermouths. Today, most consumers prefer homemade to commercial ones, looking for a traditional flavor, much more botanical and full of nuances. 

Thanks to this new push, in some places in Spain such as Madrid or Valencia, they have seen the birth of premises dedicated exclusively to the “vermouth hour” where it is possible to find vermouth menus with more than 150 different varieties, between artisanal vermouths, combinations and vermouths. more commercial. 

This new boom has also led the wineries that make homemade vermouths to investigate and experiment, achieving some truly unique flavors such as a typical cider vermouth from the Asturias area or vermouths macerated in different drinks such as gin.

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