Weekend Sip: A new bittersweet drink from Spain wants to bring ‘Vermouth Hour’ to the U.S.

The bottles: La Pivón vermouths, $29

The back story: France and Italy are familiar sources for vermouth, the wine-based sip that is flavored with herbs and used in many a cocktail (think white vermouth in a Martini and red vermouth in a Negroni). But it turns out that Spain has a rich vermouth history, to the point that Spaniards, particularly in Madrid, enjoy what’s known as La Hora del Vermut (the Vermouth Hour).

Spain has a rich vermouth history, to the point that Spaniards, particularly in Madrid, enjoy what’s known as La Hora del Vermut (the Vermouth Hour).

Given the American passion for happy hour, it’s only fitting that a spirits entrepreneur would bring Spanish vermouth and its associated drinking tradition to the U.S. The 3 Badge Beverage Corporation, a California-based company, partnered with a Spanish vermouth producer and created the La Pivón brand specially for the American market. Part of the idea, says 3 Badge President August Sebastiani, is to use La Pivón to boost the other brands in its portfolio, whether it’s Kirk and Sweeney rum or Bozal mezcal, by promoting cocktails that feature combinations of the spirits.

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But Sebastiani also says La Pivón vermouths — red (rojo) and white (blanco) versions are offered — can work as standalone sips. He notes that the Spanish style is all about the balance of flavors, adding that “La Pivón” translates roughly from the Spanish as “a very attractive person.” “The name was chosen to reference the beauty of flavors in our Spanish vermouth,” says Sebastiani.

Also see: An X-rated wine? This California label goes the risqué route

What we think about them: We’re fans of vermouth, but had been unacquainted with the Spanish style, so La Pivón is a welcome find. We’re partial to the band’s white version, which is a bittersweet, almost slightly viscous vermouth with beguiling flavors — a little citrus here, a little licorice there. The red holds its own as well.

How to enjoy them: We think these vermouths are a perfect summer refresher served simply over ice. But if you want a cocktail, you can certainly use them in place of other brands. Either way, enjoy your Vermouth Hour.

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