Vermouth is a delicious aperitif, served on the rocks or with a splash of soda or tonic. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
Vermouth, which is either pronounced ‘vermuth’ or ‘vermooth’ depending on where you hail from, is having a ‘fashion’ moment, and sweeties, we applaud its return. As martini drinkers we are already friends with vermouth, as it is an essential ingredient in a classic martini. However, this mix of botanicals that includes fruits, herbs, spices and roots is also a delicious aperitif that we love to drink served on the rocks or with a splash of soda or tonic.
Vermouth is French for the German word wermut (wormwood) and it used to be a favourite aperitif, that was widely advertised. We loved the Martini Rossi advert ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’ which was hugely popular, before falling out of fashion in the late 1980s.
Vermouth, a delicious aperitif
Vermouth has a relatively low alcohol level, and comes in varying levels of sweetness. Cinzano and Martini & Rossi and Noilly Prat
(our preferred choice for a martini), are the most famous producers. Like gin, vermouth has a variety of herbs in the mix, including cardamom, cloves, coriander and quinine. Other additions are usually a closely guarded secret.
We know that Spain has been reigniting the passion for vermouth as a delicious aperitif in its own right, and there are growing numbers of producers making their own blends from from Europe, the US, UK and Australia.
We visited the new and very hip Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro
on a recent trip to Sydney. They have a fantastic range available, and staff had helpful advice on how best to try each one (over ice, or with a mixer). We loved the Noilly Prat original dry with hints of bitter grapefruit and chamomile. This was served over ice with a twist of lemon. The Regal Rogue Lively White from the Hunter Valley had flavours of bush lemons, finger limes and thyme, and was slightly sweeter. We drank this with a splash of tonic, which brought out the citrus flavours.
Finally, Outlandish Claims Bitter Tonic Red vermouth from Canberra District had plenty of bitter herbs and blood orange
citrus. We think this one would be perfect in one of our favourite classic cocktails, the Negroni. We recommend Banksii in Sydney sweeties, and if you are in, or visiting Hong Kong, try Pirata
in Wanchai. This Italian restaurant also has a good vermouth selection to experiment with. Chin chin!