Jos Ramn Gonzlez: “Vermouth has no secrets; you have to put art and pampering on it”

The bartender at the Morrocotuda bar, José Ramón González, tells a story inspired by the most ancient Basque traditions while mixing, with care and great skill, the ingredients that give color and flavor to the best vermouth in town. This has been considered not only by a jury of professionals in the 2021 Bilbao Vermouth contest, organized by Bilbao Centro, but also by theThe very customers who have cast their vote and have awarded it the audience award. Two fingers.

Winner of the VI Route of Prepared Vermouth of Bilbao. Video: Borja Guerrero

Not only has he won the jury award, but also, customers have chosen his vermouth, the best in Bilbao. Almost nothing. Happy?

“As if not to be.” All prizes are always welcome, but in addition to the jury, it is the public who votes the Morrocotuda vermouth as the best, that has no prize. I am happy.

‘Tribute’, this is how he has christened his cocktail. To who?

—On the one hand it is a tribute to our culture, our roots and traditions and, on the other, it is a tribute to my father who has recently passed away.


-Thanks. The contest coincided with his death and I decided to go ahead.

And where does the secret of the best vermouth in Bilbao lie?

“He has no secret.” You have to put a lot of art and love on it.

And besides art and love, what else?

—When I prepare the cocktail I tell a story centered on Basque traditions and around the farmhouse. Transferring the Cinzano brothers to that time, specifically to June 6, 1757, the date on which they founded this drink.

Can you reveal the recipe?

“It has no mystery.” The vermouth recipe consists of a base of Vermouth Rosso Cinzano, Campari, cachaza (Brazilian drink), a few drops of pacharán, orange juice, angostura and orange to flavor.

Substitute Cachaça for the gin. Why?

—All the ingredients in this vermouth have a reason. Cachaça is a Brazilian drink and I use it in the cocktail as a nod to those who have come to Bilbao from other countries. Because in addition to being traditional, we Basques are hospitable.

Should vermouth be taken cold?

-Yes. It is important to break the ice. For the aromas to mix and the consumer to move to life in the farmhouses, it is important to serve the drink very cold. For this, what I do is pour it like cider.

As it does?

—I pass it from one glass to another about eight or ten times to, in addition to cooling it, lower the alcohol content and thus open up all the aromas of the cocktail. It is a way for the aromas to spread in the mouth and also at the olfactory level.

Is there a habit of drinking vermouth in Bilbao?

“Yes, and more and more.” After the pandemic, consumer habits have changed. Before, people went out more at night, now, on the other hand, it takes more to go out earlier, at noon.

Is vermouth a cocktail for a more mature audience?

– Curiously, another of the things that has changed after the pandemic is the age of the people who consume it. Now there are more and more young people who, from the age of 20, go out, like and consume vermouth.

Do you serve them in a glass?

“Yes, in a cocktail glass.” Although in the contest all the participants had to serve the cocktails in the same type of glass so that there were no differences.

115 locals participated in the contest organized by Bilbao Centro. Is there a vermouth route in Bilbao?

“Of course there is, and a very good one.” In the contest it was shown that there is a high level, which makes the capital of Biscay a city with a vermouth route.

So, do you prepare vermouth for your customers by telling them the story of the Cinzano brothers in the Basque farmhouse?

-Yes Yes. That’s what I like. Sometimes, especially when there are a lot of people in the bar, I don’t do it the way I would like … But what I want is that this vermouth is not just a drink, but an experience for the consumer.

There is only one thing left.


Try it.

“That’s done.”

“In addition to the jury award, taking the audience’s award has been a real gift”

“The cocktail is a tribute to Basque culture and traditions and to my father, who recently passed away”

“More and more young people are asking for vermouth in Bilbao; there is a lot of level in the town”