My Fellow Inebriates,
I promised you the skinny on vermouth, and now that my head’s clear I can tackle it.
Vermouth is one of those sometimes mystifying products that figures in a truckload of high-falutin’ drinks without necessarily being any great shakes on its own. Or at least that’s what my drinking buddy Blackie Bear tells me.
Blackie says there’s no big mystery—it comes in dry or sweet varieties, and a good drink-mixing recipe book will tell you which one you need.
Try this mix for instance:
- 2 oz dry vermouth
- ½ oz white curacao
- 2 oz club soda (if you insist on dilution)
Serve over ice with a twist.
I don’t know what would happen if you used sweet vermouth in this, but Blackie says he’d probably end up handing it over to me to finish off, which would be fine because I would.
My local booze store, like yours probably, carries only a handful of vermouths, and Martini & Rossi is the only one I’ve tried, although I plan to have a party tasting at my house the next time my parents go away. They scoffed when I originally said “vertical tasting,” as vermouth is non-vintage, standardized stuff that doesn’t change from year to year or batch to batch. What can I say? My alcoholic journey is only just beginning.
Vermouth is classified as a fortified wine, running at about 18% alcohol typically, as in the case of Martini & Rossi Extra Dry. At $12 for a one-litre bottle, it’s a steal, and drinking it all in one go won’t trash your pocketbook—just you.
Regardless of where they’re made, dry and sweet vermouths are referred to by heavy vermouth users as “French” and “Italian” respectively. This is because people who are really messed up on vermouth are often humping someone and need a separate vocabulary that doesn’t include words like “sweet” and “dry” that they might be employing otherwise.
And then there are “wet” versus “dry” martinis. The more vermouth a martini has, the wetter it is. Predictably, I favor a dry martini as I like to keep my alcohol levels pretty jacked. Blackie Bear says this is one of the things that makes me similar to Winston Churchill.
You do need to keep your vermouth in the fridge if you’re not planning to pound it all at once, as it will oxidize within three months or so. My mother kept her bottle of Martini & Rossi in the cooking cupboard for over two years, tightly capped to thwart my thumbless efforts. Picture me mocking her saying, “It was just fine for making lemon-caper chicken.”
I RECOMMEND trying all the vermouths your liquor store stocks, starting with this awesome product.