WTF is Vermouth?

You may have noticed a theme this week. Believe it or not, it wasn’t planned! After my post on Flying Fox Vineyard & Winery, I got a lot of comments from people asking for me to talk more about what vermouth actually is. Many of us (including myself before this post) associate vermouth with being a lesser cocktail ingredient and not much else. Turns out, vermouth is more complex and delicious than you think!

So, what is it? Vermouth is fortified and aromatized wine. That means that it’s a wine + a spirit (normally brandy) + botanicals (especially wormwood for that signature bitter taste). You have two options–your Italian red or your French white. The red vermouth is used in Manhattans and Negronis, while the white variety is going to be found in Martinis. Red will also skew sweeter, while white skews more dry.

When you drink vermouth, its alcohol content will be higher than a typical glass of wine, so plan accordingly. You can thank the added spirits for that. Quality vermouth can be sipped on like you would a dessert wine. Pour yourself a nice 2-3 ounce glass and have yourself a day? Otherwise, here are a few creative cocktail suggestions.

Lavender Spritz

  • 6 oz. red vermouth
  • 6 oz. white vermouth
  • 6 oz. gin
  • 1 tsp. dried lavender
  • soda or tonic water (optional)
  • ice
  • fresh lavender sprigs

Makes 10-12. Stir both vermouths and gin with dried lavender. Leave overnight in your fridge to infuse. Strain into glasses with ice and soda/tonic water. Serve with fresh lavender.

Americano

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet red vermouth
  • sparkling water
  • orange wedge

Pour Campari and vermouth over ice. Top with sparkling water. Stir and top with orange wedge.

Frozé

  • 1 bottle of rosé wine
  • 4 oz. dry white vermouth
  • 2 oz. berry syrup

Add ingredients into a ziplock bag. Shake bag to thoroughly mix. Freeze the mixture for at least 6 hours, or until a slushy consistency is reached. Serve in a wine glass.

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