Use Semi-Sweet Vermouth For The Best El Presidente Cocktails

Move over, negronis, vermouth has a range of uses that exceed the classic Italian cocktail. Specifically, it works wonders in the Cuban El Presidente – though you'll want to choose the sweetness of your vermouth carefully. While the kind of vermouth you use may seem inconsequential, the difference between a dry and a semi-sweet vermouth is also the difference between a bitter El Presidente and a delicious one.

When the cocktail came to America around 2003, it was often made with dry vermouth. However, as cocktail and spirits educator Philip Duff told Tasting Table, "It was only unearthed about eight years ago that they were reading the recipe wrong or translating it from Spanish wrong."

An El Presidente is "not meant to be made with dry vermouth," added Duff. "It's meant to be made with bianco vermouth, the semi-sweet version." Vermouth — a fortified wine rather than a spirit — comes in a range of styles that likewise range in sweetness. Bianco vermouth occupies the middle ground; it contains more sugar than a dry vermouth but less than a darker red one. Bianco vermouth also comes in a golden hue. 

For an El Presidente, Duff specifically recommends Cucielo Bianco, a vermouth brand that is preparing to launch in the United States. However, any semi-sweet vermouth will do. As for the other components of an El Presidente? Vermouth plays a major role in the drink's success, but it pairs best alongside rum. 

Make your own El Presidente with vermouth, rum, curaçao, and grenadine.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that this Caribbean drink features rum in addition to vermouth. You can use a range of rums depending on your personal preferences. However, just as you'd choose your vermouth carefully, you may want to be strategic in selecting your rum. "The key is using rums that are aged but then carbon filtered to remove the color," explained Duff. 

With rum and semi-sweet vermouth as your drink's base, add a spoonful of curaçao liquor (Duff uses Cointreau) and half a spoonful of grenadine. Then, mix those ingredients with ice. Luckily, you don't have to worry about your drink tasting too dry. Thanks to the semi-sweet vermouth, your El Presidente will come across perfectly balanced with both bitter and floral notes that complement one another. Cucielo Bianco, for example, promises the flavors of maraschino cherries, bitter orange, and raisins — each of which complements everything that goes into your El Presidente.