Hello cocktail lovers. Major PSA — so pay attention:
please, everyone — from one cocktail enthusiast to another —
make it a point to check out the education classes at Under Current!
They are SO SO wonderful.
Ok, now we can move on. Last week, I attended the vermouth education class and I learned so much. It is funny, I think that I have a good handle on libations and the spirits world, but even with as much as I write about cocktails and as often as I am learning, I feel like I have barely tapped the surface most of the time. It is so nice to take a deep dive into a specific spirit and get a better understanding of its history and how to use it. Vermouth was the perfect thing!
If you don’t know much about vermouth, here are just a few things:
- Vermouth is an aromatized wine infused with a myriad of herbs and botanicals.
- Each formula is vastly different, and regionally based, due to different requirements based on allocated botanicals, particularly wormwood.
- Vermouth tends to be a misunderstood spirit, varying greatly by the region, usage, and proper storage. Due to the cocktail resurgence, this product has re-gained popularity.
- Vermouth has a shelf life, much like wine. It should be kept in the refrigerator after opening and consumed within 3 – 4 months, and preferable within one month. (Please don’t tell anyone how long some bottles of vermouth have sat on my bar shelf! How embarrassing!)
- Vermouth, even the good stuff, is super reasonably priced — and many varietals are lovely to sip by themselves — so don’t be afraid to pour yourself a glass and enjoy!
- When serving vermouth cocktails, generally speaking, serve white vermouth-based cocktails (or the vermouth alone) with a lemon garnish, and red vermouth cocktails with an orange
Wonder what brands to focus on when at the liquor store? Here were a few of my favorites:
Dolin Dry (Chambéry, FR) — this is a really straight forward white vermouth – perfect for a classic martini. It is crisp and clean and finishes wonderfully. It is very dry, but lovely and full on the tongue.
Ransom dry (Sheridan, OR) — the similarities of this vermouth and Ransom Old Tim Gin are interesting! They have many similar notes and this vermouth is really great for drinking alone. It was one of my favorites of the evening — also, the bottle. Classy as you know what.
Dolin Rouge (Chambéry, FR) — this is a great vermouth for a classic Manhattan and many cocktail bars will use this in the Manhattans they serve. It has strong earthy tones and an amazing aroma of oregano. It kind of made me want a pizza and it is great with rye and as a digestif after a hearty meal.
Carpano Antica (Torino, IT) — Ryan Manning, one of the cocktail educators for the class, called this vermouth an “actual adulteration of classic vermouth” – which I loved – because of the addition of vanilla and sugar. This is a sweet vermouth, smelling much like caramel and dark cherries. Bartenders love this vermouth and seek it out for that interesting, perfect cocktail.
Punt E Mes (Torino, IT) — this is possibly the most popular and highest selling vermouth. It has a strong aroma and flavor of gentian root and is quite bitter. However, it is great for cocktail mixing! I really enjoyed it in the Red Hook cocktail that you will find below.
Not only did we learn about and taste seven different vermouths,
we also had two amazing cocktails.
Running Up That Hill (shown above)
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/2 Ransom Dry Vermouth
Shake up with a grapefruit twist
1/2 oz Punt E Mes Vermouth
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino
2 oz Rye Whiskey
Stirred up and garnished with a Luxardo cherry
Big major huge thank you to Amy Eldredge, Ryan Manning, Carly Bringhurst , and Jim Santangelo. All of whom made this great educational event possible. It is so nice to come together with other cocktail nerds and geek out for hours.
Under Current has another great class in the works — all about Amari and Italian bitters, which if you didn’t know, are basically the hottest cocktail thing right now. Campari, Aperol, Cynar, Fernet, etc. I mean, really. That class will be held on May 18, so check back here for more updates on details and price! I’ll be there — and you should join me!
In the meantime, go purchase a few vermouths
and taste your way through this amazing spirit!