Ah vermouth, that mystical beverage that started it’s life as wine, and was elevated with aromatics and botanicals. Vermouth varies so widely, it might as well be called the gin of the wine world!
While there are two distinct types of vermouth – dry, or white, and sweet, or red, the flavor profiles within each realm vary so widely that it is akin to determining who your favorite wine is. For me, it’s impossible.
You have probably heard of, and used, the classic Martini & Rossi vermouths in your cocktails, be it a Manhattan or a Martini. While these are inexpensive and readily available, there remind me of white zinfandel. Fine, if you must, but must you?
Recently, I had the good fortune to taste a local vermouth by Sutton Cellars. This delicious example of a craft vermouth is made from a white wine from Sonoma, and infused with a burst of citrus and baking spice, this is the perfect sipper of choice on these warm fall afternoons.
While most vermouth is used in cocktails, this beauty should be enjoyed alone, or with a minimum of other ingredients.
My two favorite cocktails with craft vermouth:
Sutton & Soda
Made by Carl Sutton himself, this was a gorgeous interlude before we completed our wine
tasting. Simple, yet elegant, vermouth on the rocks with a splash of soda water and a grapefruit twist. Delicious!
Not so French Kiss
I found this recipe online, and it uses both dry and sweet vermouths. My version kicks it up a notch with the addition of some aromatic bitters for flavor emphasis.
Mix half sweet and half dry vermouth over rocks. My choice for the sweet (or red) is the Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth. While sweet is a bit of a reach, this rich red vermouth is dark ruby and complex, with orange marmalade, coffee, and spice. Yum!
Add a dash of bitters and orange bitters, and top with a lemon slice. Ahhh refreshing! For extra fun, try cardamon bitters! the earthy exotic spice works perfectly. This is like a gingerbread man, smoking a cigar, in Marseilles.
Sutton Cellars is hosting a vermouth tasting in San Francisco, at 18 Reasons, on December 2nd. If you are in the area, check it out!