Aperitivo. The pre-dinner cocktail. The social gathering before meeting at the table. It is making a comeback and craft cocktails are making a serious push towards the front of the line. Bartenders across the globe are creating amazing beverages using the power of Vermouth to make subtle and bold statements.
I had no idea the power of a great vermouth. Aside from taking a nice dry Noilly Prat and adding a splash to my Vodka Martini, Vermouth was a true mystery to me. Drinking it straight never crossed my mind. Discovering there are both sweet, and dry versions of vermouth has become my cocktail hour game changer. Let me explain why it should become yours as well.
Vermouth is a wine. Its origin can be traced back to Ancient Greece in 400 BC while its name comes from the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut. Wormwood was the main ingredient in vermouth back in Germany around the 16th century. In the 17th century, England became a major consumer of this product and called it vermouth. The name remains to this day.
Sweet vermouth was discovered in Italy where dry vermouth was discovered in France. In the 19th century bartenders began to play with the vermouth cocktails. Adding vermouth to the martini and the Manhattan created a new surge of appreciation for this wine. The classic vermouth cocktail consists of chilled vermouth, a dash of your choice of bitters, and a lemon peel.
Vermouth has remained popular in Italy, Spain, and France, however James Bond is the celebrity endorser who popularized it in North America during the 1970’s. It became synonymous with the “shaken not stirred” Martini Mr. Bond treated himself too.
Today, Artisanal makers have been all kinds of new versions of vermouth. With new flavours and colours the craft cocktail market is diving into the love of vermouth and production has been on a steady climb.
I happened upon my love for the classic vermouth cocktail with a twist during a visit to my favourite wine store in St. Albert, Hicks. Tasting some classic rose and looking into ice wine selections I commented I would love to introduce something new to my clients. The staff insisted I introduce my clients to the world of vermouth and they were right. I was poured an amazing combination of a grapefruit flavoured vermouth, grapefruit tonic, and regular tonic top up. This is now my go to cocktail of choice.
So what are the most important things to keep in mind while exploring the diversity of vermouth?
- Keep it chilled! Vermouth is always to be served ice cold, stored in the fridge, and consumed within 30 days of opening the bottle.
- Serve vermouth straight as a lovely aperitif. Pour chilled over ice. Garnish a dry vermouth with a lemon peel, a red vermouth with an orange peel, and a white sweet vermouth with a strawberry.
- Add some French Rose vermouth to your mimosa. You will thank me later.
- If you can, treat yourself to a premium bottle of vermouth. Especially when drinking it straight or mixing it with your favourite vodka or whiskey.
Grapefruit Vermouth cocktail