Sweet Vermouth Shouldn’t Just Be a Supporting Player
Think beyond the Negroni.
If you’ve only used sweet vermouth paired with whiskey for a Manhattan or with gin and Campari for a Negroni, it’s time to give the bottle a second look. We’ve said before that sweet vermouth is a lot more delicious than drinkers often think. Get yourself a fresh bottle of high-quality stuff; pour three ounces over ice and top with a little soda; and tell us that the gently sweet, herbal drink isn’t delicious.
In Spain, at la hora del vermut—vermouth hour—that’s more or less how it’s enjoyed, over ice with just a splash of soda if you’re so inclined. And once you start loving vermouth, you’re drawn toward cocktails that really show it off.
While we’ll never ditch our all-time favorite, Carpano Antica, we’re appreciating the Spanish-style vermouth La Pivón, recently launched in the States. Grab a bottle of sweet vermouth and let these three cocktails convince you how delicious it is.
Easy: Vermouth Spritz
Sweet vermouth and soda is an easy and appealing drink, but we like it with sparkling wine even better. Since vermouth is grape-based, the two integrate beautifully; the drink exhibits all the flavors of the vermouth in a lighter, crisper form.
Instructions: In a wine glass with ice, combine two ounces of sweet vermouth and three ounces of sparkling wine. (Cava is a logical choice.) Garnish with an orange half-moon.
Intermediate: Vermut y Limón
Just the smallest bit of fresh lemon juice can brighten up sweet vermouth immeasurably. This tall drink with lemon, a little simple syrup, and plenty of club soda is a perfect way to let the starring ingredient shine, and a big mint garnish makes it fragrant as can be.
Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine two ounces of sweet vermouth, a quarter-ounce of fresh lemon juice, and a quarter-ounce of simple syrup. Stir briefly, top with two ounces of club soda, and stir again. Garnish with a few thin lemon slices and a small bouquet of mint, tapping it against your hand before adding it to the drink to release its fragrant aroma.
Here’s a little-known drink from the classic cocktail canon. We’ve previously sung the praises of the Bamboo, with sherry and dry vermouth; turns out that the Adonis, with nutty amontillado sherry alongside rich sweet vermouth and orange bitters, is a beautiful drink in its own right. And for those looking for a low-proof sipper before dinner, this guy has less alcohol than a glass of wine; go forth and enjoy.
Instructions: In a mi glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of sweet vermouth and an ounce and a half of amontillado sherry, as well as a dash of orange bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon peel, twisting it over the surface of the drink to spritz its citrus oils.