Can Sipping Vermouth Solo Make You Tipsy?

In a world where mocktails are slowly replacing cocktails — even craft breweries are developing no-alcohol beer — vermouth may be the just-right choice for people who want to meet somewhere in the middle (via Thrillist). But first, what exactly is vermouth? According to Wine Folly, vermouth is a fortified wine. This type of alcohol has an added boost in the form of a distilled spirit incorporated during the winemaking process. 

Vintners adjust the flavor profile of fortified wine, sweet to dry, depending on when during the fermentation process they add the spirit to the batch, per MasterClass. While vermouth is one of a half dozen varieties of fortified wine, the addition of herbs and botanicals is what sets it apart from the pack. Beyond that, vermouth falls into one of two categories — dry vermouth (French vermouth) and sweet vermouth (Italian vermouth) — and both are amazing in cocktails or just sipped on by themselves.

It's all about the botanicals

While dry vermouth may be best known in America and Great Britain for the role it plays in a classic martini, it's often served neat as an aperitif or on the rocks in France (via MasterClass). In fact, according to French Waterways, it ranks among the most popular pre-dinner drinks in the world. Infused with up to 40 herbs and botanicals, dry vermouth has been described as bitter, mentholated, and woodsy, per Alcohol Professor. That's because, in dry vermouth, wormwood is the star in its botanical ensemble.

Sweet vermouth, on the other hand, is a warmer blend of fortified wine and botanicals. According to Bon Apétit, flavor notes include chamomile, coriander, juniper, gentian, and saffron, in addition to wormwood. On the Sauce Again suggests adding dozens of botanicals including bergamot, orange, vanilla, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cardamom, and serving it on the rocks with a twist of orange.

So let's cut to the chase. We know what vermouth is and how to serve it, but the question remains: Can sipping vermouth solo make you tipsy? If you drink enough, of course, it can. Still, according to Flaviar, at 20% alcohol (40 proof) it's a somewhat lighter alternative to tequila which averages 40% to 45% alcohol (80 to 90 proof) per DrinkStack.