Go to a bar here.
Order a martini.
Do you know what you will get?
A small (or large, depending on your bartender's generosity) glass of sweet, red vermouth. Garnished always with a small wedge of orange and sometimes with an olive, as well.
Olives and vermouth are acquired tastes, and I've definitely acquired them here, hard. What started with confusion (what is that weird stuff all the old folks are drinking?) morphed into curiosity (what is that weird stuff all the old folks are drinking?) until the day I took the plunge. After a confusing (que es esto? no, eso!), semi-heated (vaya martini más rojo) and probably embarrassing chat with a bartender (but that's what I'm here for, doing the dirty work), I got my 'martini', a glass of Martini Rosso, or red vermouth.
It is delicious. Cold, sweet, bitter, and the perfect partner for a plate of olives. So why don't we drink it as an aperitif in the US? The most obvious reason is the vodka martini, where a dry taste is the desired effect and vermouth can be an enemy instead of a friend. Another reason could be our general lack of aperitif culture. Fortified wines drunk as such have a long history in Europe. Much longer, in fact, than our country has even existed.
Next time you want a refreshing pre or post dinner drink, order a glass of cold vermouth (red, rosé, or white, shown above). And drag any disbelieving bartenders, friends and haters with you. Viva vermú!