While you may only know vermouth through its association with the classic martini, this liquor has an interesting history and far more versatility than its use within the martini-mixing context.
What is Vermouth
Vermouth is an aromatized wine, meaning that it has added sugar, roots, herbs, spices and flowers. These additives dont boost the alcohol content, but they do sculpt the flavor of the wine. Vermouth can have between 15 percent and 19 percent alcohol content by volume.
Types of Vermouth
Several different types of vermouth exist, providing a range of choices and appropriate occasions. Dry vermouth, the type most commonly used for martini cocktails, tends to be slightly bitter because it lacks sugar. On occasion, sweet vermouth is used instead. In fact, the most popular sweet vermouth, globally speaking, is marketed under the label “Martini & Rossi.” Martini vermouth probably gave its name to the cocktail.
Sweet white vermouth is sometimes used as an aperitif, an alcohol that stimulates appetite, before lunch or dinner. Sweet red vermouth also exists, although these tend to be less sweet than sweet white vermouth. Sometimes semi-sweet vermouth is used as a mixer in cocktails. The sweeter the vermouth, the lower its alcohol content.
One unique form of vermouth is the Italian “Punt e mes.” Its name literally means “point and a half” to commemorate a sudden stock price surge for the distillery that makes it. This strong (some say bitter), distinctively flavored drink can be used as a vermouth substitute in Americanos, Manhattans and Negronis.
The History of Vermouth
The earliest references to vermouth can be found in Italy during the late 1700s. Antonio Benedetto Carpano, from Turin, called the wine vermouth after the German word for wormwood, Wermut. A German wine flavored with wormwood inspired his creation of vermouth. At the time, distillers used the herbs in vermouth to try to disguise its low quality as a wine, which carried a medicinal taste. Because of the many medicinal herbs, such as nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon and marjoram that went into its creation, vermouth was sometimes marketed as a health tonic.
When vermouth was first marketed, all its varieties were sweet. The French invented the dry vermouth sometime in the early 1800s.
Cooking With Vermouth
Vermouth can be a versatile addition to any cooks repertoire. Dry vermouths can be used in recipes that call for white wine. Sometimes, sweet vermouth tastes good in fruit-based desserts, especially those with herbs added for flavor. Once opened, vermouth should be kept in a dark place, either in a cabinet or refrigerated.
Vermouth Drink Recipes
Vermouth has so many fans that recipes for its use in cocktails seem endless. These are just a few of the multitude of drinks that include vermouth.
- 1 ? oz. dry vermouth
- 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
- 1/2 tsp. maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes bitters
- 1/2 slice lemon
- 1 cherry.
- Stir all ingredients (except lemon and cherry) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
- Add the lemon slice, top with the cherry, and serve.
Vermouth Cassis #2
- 3 oz. dry vermouth
- 1 oz. crme de cassis
- club soda.
- Pour vermouth and crme de cassis into a glass filled with ice.
- Top off glass with soda and enjoy!