This summer you need Vermouth Hour
The sun is out and pretty soon lots of people will be heading for a couple of drinks in the sun with friends.
But I have a tip for you this year: put down the beer and rose, there is something new on the horizon.
I have written about the fact that vermouth is the next big trend for the drinks industry, but while S and I were in Madrid the other week we discovered something new - vermouth hour.
This is basically the Spanish version of the aperitif or cocktail time. It is taken after siesta time and before the evening's excursions begin. In fact the Spanish ritual of "tomar un vermut" does take place across the day, but it seemed very popular as a kick off to the end of the day.
We stumbled across it almost by mistake. On our first evening in the city we walked across to the Mercado San Miguel. Inside we found stalls packed with food, from paella to crudites, and a few bars all packed together in a closed market set-up.
But one of the bars, rather wonderfully, was called Vermouth Hour. Well it would be rude not to.
For the uninitiated, vermouth is a fortified wine which is flavoured with botanicals. Martini is the best-known example, but the category is set for a resurgence with a number of new names appearing in the market.
The bar in Madrid offered a range of vermouths, from a simple house one on tap to Edition Limitada. Over the next few days we worked out way through a few. Unsurprisingly, the Edition Limitada one was the best.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "How can I get invovled with this amazing new evening routine?"
Well, first off, get yourself some vermouth.
I'd highly recommend the Vermouth Lacuesta from Martinez Lacuesta, the Txurrut Vintage Zurria Blanco is also excellent and I believe there are a few new ones hitting shelves out there. I'll do some research for you, but let me know if you come across any really good examples.
Once you've got your vermouth, get it chilling and then pick yourself out some nibbles. Olives and crudité-esque bites are always a good option.
Then gather your friends, get some slices of orange and some ice, charge your glasses and get out in the sun.
S and I spent a few happy hours relaxing and chatting in Mercado San Miguel and we'll certainly be aiming for plenty more of the same this summer.
I suggest you join us.