We've never given much thought to vermouth. For us, it's mostly just that thing you put in a Manhattan. The idea of actually drinking vermouth just never really occurred to us.
But we became obsessed with it in Spain. On our first full day in Barcelona, we strolled through an outdoor food market, and there was a vendor selling 2-euro glasses of it. Several Spaniards were lined up for it, so we did the only culturally sensitive thing possible: We got ourselves a glass.
Many other glasses followed over the next 10 days. A few things we learned: Vermouth is a very traditional drink in Spain, usually as an afternoon apertif, and it's currently experiencing a renaissance. (Another fun fact: It's from the same German word as "wormwood," which was a common ingredient in vermouth a century ago.)
It's typically served over ice, with a tiny splash of soda and a twist of lemon. In older bars in Spain, you'll see huge barrels behind the bar marked "Vermut," with metal spigots for the bartenders to fill your glass.
It's delightful. Cool, refreshing, slightly bitter. We just might make it our drink of the summer.