The many ways to enjoy vermouth | Came

The fact that I haven’t been to bars much in the last 18 months perhaps goes some way to explaining why British vermouth wasn’t on my radar, but now that I’ve started to notice just how many are out there, I’m in awe. In part, I suppose, it’s a by-product of the lockdown boom in house cocktails, but it’s an obvious diversification for wineries like Bolney (below) who can use their own wine as a base.

Vermouth, for those new to it, is an ancient fortified wine drink that, like gin, is flavored with various herbs and spices. The name derives from wormwood, which is also included in the mix, though not in any specific amount, with the result that many modern vermouths exhibit a mere trace of its characteristic bitter character (other botanicals may include artichoke, gentian, clove, cassia and citrus peel).

Vermouth can be drunk neat (usually on the rocks), diluted with tonic or soda (a great low-alcohol option), or used as an essential component in many classic cocktails such as the Negroni, Manhattan, and Americano. The difficult thing, however, is to specify the style. In theory, there are three main types: dry, white (or “bianco”), which is dry, and red, which is generally sweeter, but there is wide divergence even within each category. “Dry”, for example, ranges from the London Vermouth Company’s innovative No 3 SE Dry (below), which is based on bacchus grapes, currants and Bramley apples, to more classic bottlings like Sacred’s English Dry (£18.95, 21 .8%) , which is better for a dry martini. Similarly, you’ll find the reds range from austere (Sacred Again) to the lusciously cherry-scented Old Poison Edinburgh Vermouth Rosso (£19.95, 18%). If you’re a vermouth newbie, or particularly sensitive to bitterness, I’d start with the more accessible styles in today’s selection.

See also  How To Liven Up Your Buckwheat Ideas | Eastern European food and drink

Two more tips for virgin vermouth, though both will depend on the product and your palate: dry vermouths generally work best with tonic water, while sweeter styles, like the Reus Blanco below, are more refreshing with soda, but experiment ( Sounds like a standard serving of red vermouth with a splash of tonic, Campari, and gin to me—a lighter, less bitter alternative to the negroni, though purists are probably going to be horrified.) And lastly, vermouth, especially dry vermouth, does not do well with it being left out, so once opened, store it in the fridge and consume it within two weeks. On the other hand, once you get the vermouth bug, that won’t be much of a problem.

Five British bottles for vermouth virgins

Dry London 16%

Dry London £15.95 (75cl) The Whiskey Exchange, £19.30 Master of Malt, 16%. A delicate, herbal, chambery-style vermouth that’s good on the rocks or with a splash of soda.

The London Vermouth Company No 3 SEDry

The London Vermouth Company No 3 SE Dry £25 (50cl), 17%. This light apple aperitif is a modern and accessible take on vermouth. Drink on the rocks, with tonic or as a reverse martini (two parts: one part gin).

The Appetizer Co Reus White Vermouth 16%

The Vermouth Aperitif Co Reus White £22 (75ml), 16%. A sophisticated twist on the dry bianco style flavored with violet, almond and sage. Great with a splash of soda.

Bolney Rosso English Vermouth 20% copy

Bolney Rosso English Vermouth £20 (75cl), 20%. Fruitier than many red vermouths, thanks to the sloes. As a chinato barolo, it would be great with dark chocolate. Serve on the rocks.

Vault Vermouth Rosso 15.5% copy

Vermouth Rosso Vault £29 (75cl), 15.5%. Nice, light vermouth, almost blueberry, with a flavor of rosemary, wormwood and cassia, a perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness. Better, in my opinion, on the rocks.

See also  Madhur Jaffrey's Chicken Tikka Masala | fall food and drink

For more from Fiona Beckett, go to

Leave a comment