These are heady times in the world of vermouth. Not since the 1880s have drinkers gone so mad for the stuff. In Barcelona, vermouth bars are very much where it’s at. If it turns out that Justin Bieber was swigging from a bottle of Noilly Prat when he was arrested for drag racing in Miami, put it this way: I would not be surprised.
Okay, so Kanye West hasn’t hymned the virtues of Extra Dry just yet but the emergence of not one but two new vermouth brands is a sign that this underappreciated ingredient is finally getting the loving it deserves. This week the Café Royal hosted the launch of La Quintinye Royal Vermouth, a new range of three vermouths (Rouge, Blanc and Extra Dry) named after Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinye, the botanist to King Louis XIV. They are made in Charentes, France, and come in gorgeous little bottles that I expect to see behind the smartest bars soon.
Another new player is Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino, who has spent four years perfecting his range of vermouths (Rosso, Bianco and Secco). These are artisanal products, made in small batches from impeccably sourced ingredients and designed with the modern bartender in mind. So, as I was saying, it’s like Vermouth City out there.