The rise and rise of vermouth drinking spots in London isn't exactly new news. It is good news, though...
We put it down to all that Campari marketing a few years back, launching negronis into the national consciousness hard and dragging sidekick vermouth rosso along for the ride. It was never going to stay a sidekick for long, though. Not when it's perfect passed round at a summer barbeque, pale and forceful over ice; not when it's perfect by a fireplace, all maroon velvety gloss and air of 70s licentiousness.
Rounded up here are the London bars placing vermouth front and centre. And we'll drink to that.
Vermuteria - King's Cross
The food, decor and naturalmente the drinks list at this Italian-inspired bar-cafe pay homage to the vermouth bars of northern Italy, though not rigidly. You'll spot influences from across Europe on the food menu, pasta rubbing shoulders with terrine, croque monsieur keeping company with croquetas. The vermouth list's long but easy to navigate — who doesn't love a menu with tasting notes like 'Holy Thistle... Sage... Iris'? — and reps Spain, Greece and occasionally, Britain, along with the Italian big-names. Equally good bar for starting your vermouth education, or indulging your vermouth passion.
Vermuteria, 38 Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ.
The Tapas Room - Tooting, Brixton and Deptford
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CHRISTMAS HAS COME EARLY!!! Get a load of this - our new cocktail "Christmas in Manhattan". A beautiful spicy, warm, wintry cocktail available all throughout the festive season. 1 part Spiced Rum 1 part Vermut de Jerez Generous dash of orange bitters and orange peel to finish. Pairs wonderfully with our famous churros and chocolate sauce with cinnamon sugar. Hold yourselves back, guys 🎄🦌
Plenty of reasons to visit this miniature buzzy shop-meets-bar in Broadway Market, or one of their sister bars in Brixton Village or Deptford. Good tapas, obviously, good wine list, nice candlelit glow. Their vermouth range isn't as wide as others on this list but they're precise as hell about their shortish drinks menu — borderline obsessive; also, fyi, quite bossy if you're about to order a vermouth they feel is not the Right Vermouth to go with your tapas — so you can be pretty certain whatever's made it into rotation at The Tapas Room is worth a punt.
The Tapas Room, Unit 3, Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RJ.
Mele e Pere - Soho
Enormous selection of vermouth here, reportedly the biggest in London. This Soho Italian has a downstairs vermouth bar, stocking a lot of lesser-spotted imports along with their own homebrew on tap. They're also very, very (bit too) good at the cocktail side of things, knocking out the negroni/sbagliato/boulevardier classics with style, alongside vermouth-based beauties of their own invention.
Mele e Pere, 46 Brewer Street, W1F 9TF.
El Vermut - Nunhead
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Specialising in the Spanish stuff, these guys source painstakingly, and are the sole importers of several of their vermouths. If that sounds like a spot for vermouth connoisseurs only, not to worry — the bar's friendly, unstuffy, and has enough beer/cocktails/softs to satisfy any vermouth refuseniks. El Vermut also features decent-priced tapas — think hearty rather than highly-ornate — and table football. Geared more towards relaxed good times rather than refined sipping.
El Vermut, 28 Nunhead Green, SE15 3QF.