Are you a vermouth person? We love it. Nigella loves it too, and honestly, whatever Nigella says should be law.
Red vermouth, or “rosso”, has this wonderful warming character that’s ideal for early spring, when it’s sunny but there’s a bite of winter chill lingering in the air. If you’re not familiar with the drink, you might expect it to be syrupy like port, or even hot with alcohol like eau de vie, and while it’s around the 15% ABV mark, red vermouth has a mouthfeel much more like a smooth-drinking sherry or rum. Sweet, but not over-sweet, and bitter too, gently bouncing with aromatics.
We’ve got some in stock now, and we wanted to talk about it a bit more because we don’t think it gets enough love!
What is Vermouth?
Vermouth is a fortified wine first made in Italy but now popular in France and in Spain, where it’s especially loved in Madrid and Barcelona.
Red vermouth, known sometimes as “Italian vermouth” is an absolutely vital ingredient in some of your favourite cocktails like the Manhattan and the Negroni, and every Martini has dry white vermouth – the “French” style — in it whether stirred or given a good old shake.
Traditionally vermouth is made with upwards of 50 aromatic botanicals, including cinnamon, clove, bitter orange, liquorice, rosemary, chamomile, bay leaf, hops and ginger, and some even have wormwood in!
Over the years, and especially recently, makers have taken what they love about vermouth and tweaked it in their own directions, losing flavours they don’t care for and adding aromatics that better represent their locality or pair better with their cuisine. It’s really cool to see these adaptations being made, bringing modernity and global palates to a drink that’s often seen as old-fashioned, or just simply unfashionable.
Spanish Vermouth? Isn’t it Italian?
We’re currently stocking red vermouth, because that’s what Katie drank last time she was in Barcelona. Even though it’s historically Italian, she can’t separate that deliciously bittersweet aperitif from memories of the Gothic Quarter, pulling an olive from a cocktail stick, and snacking on plates of croquetas.
So then, we’re selling an amazingly nostalgic vermouth by Barcelona-based Bandarra Vermut.
Bandarra Vermut Red is a vermouth that emulates vermouth from mid-century Barcelona, looking away from contemporary takes on the drink and back to a time when sweet vermouth wasn’t cool or uncool — it was just enjoyed everywhere by everyone.
We like that vibe. A lot.
How To Drink Vermouth
We’d never want to tell anyone how to drink anything, however if you’ve never tried vermouth before, it might help to have a few serving suggestions.
On Ice, With A Slice
Grab your favourite lowball glass — go on, get the crystal out — and chuck a couple of chunky ice cubes in there. Add a twist of orange peel, or a whole slice, or a lemon slice if you prefer. Throw a couple of olives in there too. Enjoy.
Bye bye Apérol spritz (not really, we love you), hello vermouth spritz. Just pop equal parts vermouth and soda water into a highball or wine glass with ice cubes in it, and chuck an orange wedge in there. Eat some olives while you drink it. Delicious.
Come on now, who doesn’t love a negroni? Last year we read they were both very cool, and very sad at the same time. Luckily, we don’t care. Pour equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth into a jug, with ice. Stir and stir and stir until the jug feels cold. Strain into a glass, add a fresh ice cube, and garnish with a slice of orange — blood orange if ya fancy. Invite us round to help you finish off the jug.