Written by Donna Brousseau
Photographed by Kyle Ripley, Haigwood Studios
It wasn’t that long ago that vermouth was nothing more than an after-thought. One of those bottles, often emerald green, that we fished out from the back of the liquor cabinet when we felt like drinking a little boozy nostalgia.
We didn’t really know much about vermouth, but it seemed to add the perfect touch of sweetness and bitterness to classic cocktails— martinis lightly kissed with vermouth; Negronis, equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth; Rob Roys, a mix of Scotch, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters; and smoky Manhattans, from whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.
After we mixed up a batch, or two, we screwed the cap on and shoved it back on the shelf to gather dust until our next bout of nostalgia hit us. Often occurring months, or years, later.
“It’s such a shame,” says Stevenson Rosslow, owner of Wrecking Bar Brewpub. “There are so many beautifully crafted vermouths, many of them coming out of America, on the market right now. Sadly, people in the U.S. don’t really know what to do with them. They are stuck in the days of the badly made martini and Manhattan using Martini & Rossi or those cheesy Joan Collins and Leonard Rossiter commercials showcasing Cinzano.”
Rosslow says he loves vermouth in cocktails, but also enjoys it straight up. “I often drink the new artisan vermouths by themselves or with soda and a squeeze of citrus in the afternoon. It’s the Spanish version of an Aperol spritz. Our barrel-aged Manhattan, which is made from Rittenhouse Rye and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth is, in my opinion, the perfect aperitif.”
There is a lot to know about this herbaceous tipple that most of us don’t.
Excerpt is from an article featured in the WINTER issue of Flavors Magazine, subscribe today and don't miss a single issue!
Stevenson Rosslow shares his recipe using vermouth:
Yield: 1 drink
2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
1 Luxardo maraschino cherry for garnish
In a bar glass filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Stir until cold. Strain into a Nick & Nora or martini glass. Garnish with Luxardo maraschino cherry.
WRECKING BAR BREWPUB
292 Moreland Avenue