Vermouth 101: An Introductory Guide
Vermouth may be best known as a critical component in the martini, but the hottest way to drink vermouth today is on its own. And thanks to the wide selection of high-quality vermouths with varying styles, flavors and complexities, every pour promises something exciting.
What Is Vermouth?
Vermouth is an aromatized wine with herbs, spices, barks, flowers, seeds, roots and other botanicals, fortified with distilled alcohol to keep it from spoiling as quickly. Believed to be one of the oldest forms of alcoholic libation, vermouth gets its name from wermut, the German word for wormwood. Traditionally, vermouth is classified as sweet (red) or dry (white), although more nuanced categories such as bianco, quinquina, American modern and black vermouth have come into popularity in recent years.
Because vermouth is a fortified wine prone to oxidation, store it in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling.
How to Drink Vermouth
Although vermouth is delicious in cocktails, it’s even better served on ice with a citrus twist to open the layers of complex, aromatic flavors. "Let what's in the glass speak for itself," Christopher Longoria, head bartender of San Francisco's 1760, says. "I enjoy vermouth on a king cube with some type of citrus twist—orange twists tend to complement the darker vermouths better, and lemon complements the lighter vermouths." Vermouth can also be served neat in a chilled glass or over frozen grapes (like the vermouth service at New York's Caffe Dante).
Recommended Vermouths for Sipping
Quality vermouths can be hard to find; you’ll likely need to visit to a cocktail-nerd-quality liquor store or a chat with a knowledgeable bartender at a cocktail-nerd-quality bar. In the meantime, here are six delicious vermouths perfect for sipping.
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