Upgrade Your Martini Game With Flavored Vermouth

"Flavored" vermouth doesn't exactly exist — at least, not in the sense of other flavored spirits with added sugar and coloring. Unlike many ultra-sweet offerings in the style of Pinnacle Whipped vodka, vermouth is flavored more subtly by infusing herbs and spices into the pure ethanol alcohol, then distilling it. The process is similar to how different gin brands are flavored, except that vermouth isn't a liquor at all; it's a fortified wine aperitif. 

Although it's overlooked, don't get it twisted: Vermouth is more than just a supporting character. It's a foundational ingredient in Manhattans, Negronis, Americanos — and, as we're talking about today, martinis. Vermouth has a low ABV, usually hitting the 15% to 18% range, which gives it versatile functionality in a cocktail. Fittingly, it comes in a myriad of subcategories like bianco, rouge, and others. 

Still, vermouth isn't exactly known for its "pizazz" factor. Cocktail fans already know the dry and sweet vermouths used for traditional martinis. However, a flavored, botanical or fruity vermouth can make a martini fan out of even the most devout pina colada drinker. Your home bar lineup is about to get a moody, mysterious facelift.

Customizable cocktails in the blink of an eye

To help move your mixology mind into martini mode, we've rounded up some flavor profiles into a choose-your-own-adventure spread. Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino is an Italian vermouth flavored with cocoa, bitter orange, balsamic, and rosemary, and it'll add instant herbaceousness to a classic martini. Or, to kick things up a notch, it'd also function great in a Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini. This variation is made with anise liqueur, vodka, and peat whisky; subbing Cocchi di Torino for the whisky would provide an earthy complement.

Carpano Antica Formula is Italy's oldest vermouth, flavored with vanilla bean, cherry, chocolate, and almond — a dessert-like profile so accessible you could simply enjoy it on the rocks. But, it'd also add sweet-yet-sophisticated flair to a classic martini or a Martinez. The Martinez is a martini variation made with gin and sweet vermouth with a splash of maraschino liqueur; semi-sweet Carpano Antica would round out the bitter cherry.

Floral cocktails fans, this one's for you. Lillet Rosé is a French vermouth flavored with red berries, orange blossom, and grapefruit. Use this bad boy in your next martini for a bright, flowery burst. Or, use it to make a Gin Blossom, the martini-adjacent cocktail made with gin, vermouth, orange bitters, and apricot eau de vie. Whatever flavor of vermouth you choose, get creative and have fun. (Just be sure to store that open bottle in the fridge to keep it fresh).