‘Laterio’ is a big thing in Spain. We’re talking bars, yes, but bars that specialize in preserves – usually seafood including treats like cockles, scallops, mussels and clams. And, yes, we understand that going to a bar to eat canned goods probably sounds insane to any foreigners reading this. But it makes more sense if you consider that Spain produces some of the world’s best preserves: anchovies from Santoña (Cantabria), Navarran asparagus and peppers, and canned fish and seafood from Galicia are just a few examples.
At Bodegas Casas, situated in Madrid’s Pacifico neighbourhood and just a stone’s throw from the Retiro park, boasts a broad repertoire of preserves and a powerful ally: the excellent artisanal vermouth from Reus that they have been serving for over 90 years, especially popular on Sundays when the whole of Spain seemingly stops for a glass of this herb-infused wine. If you want to get the full flavour, ask for it ‘seco’ (i.e. without soda water). The drink comes with a perfect accompaniment: a little tray with an olive and anchovy.
The zinc bar loaded with tapas, the wrought iron fittings and the bottles lined up on the shelves give the visitor a clue as to what the bar offers: simple, quality products at reasonable prices. The phrase ‘the best vermouth in Madrid’ has been said on many occasions about many different bars, but few have been so deserving of the title as Bodegas Casas.
Bodegas Casas is usually pretty busy at the weekend, but you can always find at least enough room to grab a drink after a walk through the Retiro. If the vermouth has whet your appetite for something more substantial, you can always swing by La Huerta de Casa Ricardo, a wonderful restaturant specialising in Catalan cuisine with highlights including calçots with romesco sauce, snails a la llauna, butifarra and escalivada. But that, as Kipling would say, is for another post.
2 vermouths: €3 (having a third vermouth is too much like tempting fate)
Address: Bodegas Casas, Av. de la Ciudad de Barcelona, 23, 28007 Madrid
Tel: +34 914 33 76 26
Article written por David Cánovas, journalist and founder of Memoralia, a company dedicated to books and biographies on commission.