Six things you might not know about the classic cocktail buddy – vermouth
Vermouth is a versatile bittersweet fortified wine that’s great when drunk as an aperitif and used in cocktails. Here's six things you might not know about vermouth – plus a few of Toast’s favourite classic vermouth cocktails (below)…
- Vermouth is made from at least 75% wine that has been “aromatised” with the addition of herbal and spice ingredients, and fortified by the addition of spirits, most commonly brandy, to make it stronger.
- Its use started as a medicine, and the addition of herbs to wine for medicinal purposes can be traced back to ancient China, India and Greece.
- Vermouth gets its name from the German word for wormwood, a plant believed to aid digestion (and also the key ingredient in absinthe). Other botanicals commonly added to vermouth include liquorice, orange peel, cinnamon, anise, cardamom and gentian.
- Vermouth is used in cocktails – such as classics like the Manhattah, Martini and Negroni (see recipes below) – to add a sweet, bitter note and bring “roundness” to the flavours of the base spirit.
- Vermouth comes in a number of varieties: white, red, rose and golden – although white and red are the most common; and in sweet and dry versions, which essentially means they are either lighter with less sugar (dry), or sweeter and fuller in the mouth (sweet). For a taste comparison, think of the Martini - which generally uses a dry vermouth, versus a Negroni – which is typically made with a sweet vermouth.
- Because of the addition of spirits, vermouth lasts longer once opened than wine, and can be kept in the fridge for approximately a month, after which time the flavours will start to be compromised.