Vermouth 101: Everything You Need to Know

The featured spirits are back! I took July off from this series so I could have a little fun with cocktails for a change.

Not to say that I don’t love this series (because I do!) but since I started it in January, I have begun to miss playing around without parameters. I scribble down ideas all the time, so it was super to work on other things, like popsicles and milkshakes, for a change!

So, with August here, I am starting the Kindred Spirits series back up with vermouth. This fortified wine is a versatile member of your home bar. Well, two members actually, as sweet vermouth and dry vermouth are very, very different.

You’ll use dry in martinis and sweet in manhattans. James Bond and Don Draper would be proud of you for learning how to use vermouth, so keep reading for lots more on this spirit. // susannah 

Vermouth 101

Vermouth is an aromatic, fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices.A fortified wine is a wine plus a distilled spirit, usually brandy. Other than vermouth, there are many different kinds of fortified wine, including port, sherry, madeira and marsala.

Vermouth is known for its role in drinks like the Martini and the Manhattan. It comes in two forms, dry vermouth and sweet vermouth. The dry comes from the French, and the sweet from the Italian.

How it looks and tastes: 

Sweet vermouth

Sweet vermouth is sweet and red, regardless of its country of origin. It’s also known as Italian vermouth, red vermouth or vermouth rosso.

Dry vermouth

Dry vermouth is paler in color and much drier, regardless of its country of origin. It also goes by French vermouth, white vermouth or vermouth secco.

How to drink vermouth

How to drink it: You can mix vermouth into cocktails, but both sweet and dry can also be served as an aperitif over ice. Try half sweet, half dry with a garnish of a lemon or orange slice.

How to store it: Vermouth can go bad, so store open bottles in the fridge for up to a month.

Popular brands:
Dry vermouth: Noilly Prat (French), Dubonnet (French), Lillet (French)
Sweet vermouth: Cinzano Bianco (Italian), Carpano Punt E Mes (Italian)
Both kinds: Martini and Rossi, Gancia, Cocchi, Vya, Gallo

Feast + West favorites: Martini and Rossi, Lillet

Starring roles:
Dry vermouth: Martinis, Gibson, Algonquin and Bronx
Sweet vermouth: Manhattans, Rob Roy, Bronx and Americano

Feast + West drinks: Manhattan, Vieux Carré, Pickled Martini

National Martini Day: June 19, 2016

Further reading

(Sources // The KitchnAsk Men)

decorative icon of a beer stein.

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

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  1. Cindy says

    I love this! I literally JUST posted a recipe using vermouth and I am always looking for knowledge on how to use different spirits.

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