The Way Most Of The World Prefers To Drink Dry Vermouth

If you live in the United States and regularly enjoy vermouth, you probably most often have it as part of a cocktail. It's a mainstay of any mixologist — from white vermouth in the classic martini and its many variations to red in a Manhattan or Negroni. It has also been a beneficiary of America's growing embrace of spritz cocktails and European apéritifs like Aperol and Campari. According to Bartender Business, vermouth — a wine fortified with small amounts of other distilled spirits like brandy and flavored with herbs, roots, and spices — is a natural pairing for drier, more alcohol-heavy spirits because of its lower ABV, light sweetness, and complex taste.

The earliest form of vermouth was originally intended not for cocktails but for medicine (via SFGate notes it wasn't until around the turn of the 19th century that dry and red vermouth were commercially produced in France and Italy, respectively. It turns out that people liked the taste of vermouth, so it quickly gained popularity as a drink, medical benefits or not. It was in that capacity that vermouth joined the growing list of apéritifs enjoyed before meals throughout Italy and other parts of Europe.

Vermouth is commonly enjoyed neat

While you might have a bottle of dry vermouth stashed away in the back of your fridge for the errant weekend cocktail, have you ever considered just pouring a glass and drinking it? According to MasterClass, that is how the majority of vermouth-producing countries, such as France and Spain, prefer to enjoy it. Dry vermouth, with its floral notes and crisper, less sugary taste, is also great chilled or served on the rocks.

Wine Folly says from producer to producer, the flavor of the vermouth varies a lot. The mix of herbs, roots, spices, and other aromatics is what distinguishes each individual brand of vermouth the most — so much so that the exact combinations are proprietary trade secrets. Because dry vermouth can be bitter, another simple way to enjoy the fortified wine without it getting too intense is by adding soda water to make a highball like the vermouth spritz. This can dilute the stronger flavors a bit, while still preserving the unique taste of whichever brand you're trying.