You can’t talk to anyone about vermouth without hearing about Cala del Vermut. Fernando Puerta founded the original spot decades ago because he wanted to rescue vermouth from the dustbin of history where it’d been consigned after everybody switched to beer; soon it expanded to a second location, run by his wife, and then a third, run by his step-son, César, who says the family has a friendly competition going between the three of them.
Perhaps that’s why César’s place is the only one open when I stop by on a Monday afternoon: to give him the edge over his folks’ more rustically charming locations (this is a rookie move by the way: vermouth any time other than weekend mornings is soooo guiri). Even if the vibe is lacking, the tapas array is delectable, especially the Cantabrian white anchovies, and the on-tap Penedès hits the spot. Just don’t ask César to join you; he doesn’t touch the stuff!