Jul 18, 2022 - Things to Do

Your guide to exploring vermouth

Two glasses of mezcal Negronis.
Mezcal Negronis made with Dumpster Juice vermouth. Photo: Alexa Mencia/Axios

I have a confession. I'm among the (tragic) many who haven't given vermouth much thought beyond its supporting role in cocktails. This weekend was the first time I tried vermouth neat — its main character moment!

How it works: Vermouth is made with a base of wine that's fortified with a distilled spirit, then infused with flavor by combining aromatics, spices, citrus and other ingredients.

My three takeaways:

1. Be open-minded: There's something for everyone in each bottle, Morris said. Even a super sweet vermouth can have a hefty bitterness to back it up.

2. Learn the nomenclature: Vermouths are specific by place — such as the traditional sweet or red from Italy and dry from France — and also by style. I found this Vermouth 101 and this Vine Pair FAQ particularly useful.

3. Experiment: I paired my Dumpster Juice sweet vermouth with mezcal for a twist on a Negroni. I'm thinking about turning it into a spritz next.

Of note: There are many non-alcoholic alternatives out there — like Ghia and Lyre's — that capture the essence of vermouth too.

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