The aromatized wine ramped up with herbs, citrus peel and other botanicals is coming into its own as an essential aperitif and cocktail ingredient.
By Warren Bobrow, CSX Contributor
Vermouth is a most maligned cocktail ingredient. Most of the stuff that goes into a cocktail is sour from age because most people don’t know that vermouth has a pretty short shelf life. In other words, vermouth needs to be refrigerated to remain usable for preparing your fine cocktails. (If you have a bottle waiting on top of your fridge and it’s been there for a few months in the heat, or if you snagged one from your grandparent’s home lurking under their cobweb laden bar, THROW IT OUT NOW.)
The original use for Vermouth involved certain core-medicinal properties of the ingredients. European vermouth contains a goodly amount of its active ingredient- wormwood, which is the also found in the socially-much-maligned intoxicant absinthe. Wormwood has shown itself to be very effective for ridding the body of internal parasites like intestinal worms and for the treatment of most minor stomach maladies like your common tummy ache.
Vermouth, like many of our modern day aperitifs and their denser amaro cousins, was not originally stirred into a mixed drink to taste. In fact, they didn’t come into play in the cocktail bar until Jerry Thomas utilized them in his “medicinal” concoctions originally dispensed by apothecaries as powerful medicinals. Vermouth’s original use was a curative against head lice–that’s the healing power of wormwood for ye!
In our modern era, a person might take an antacid tablet when they have a belly ache from eating a spicy meal or spoiled food. In the 1800’s they might have a glass of vermouth or a glass of amaro for their curative and digestion. I much prefer a few glasses of Carpano Antica Vermouth instead of chemically produced stomach tablets. Here are a few vermouths to try:
Uncouth Vermouth Apple Mint
Where do I start with Uncouth Vermouth? Perhaps the first place would be with founder Bianca Miraglia herself. She is an alchemist and a poet with liquids as her muse. She gathers her herbs in their wild state and unleashes their potential mixed with wines that speak clearly of their potency and passion. Bianca is mystical in her flavors and her infused wines (vermouth) speak a language that is clearly brilliant and hardly the norm. There are different varieties with the seasons. They age beautifully as well with all the finesse of their maker. Class act!
Carpano Punt e Mes
Produced by the same fine house that produces Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes speaks a different tonality than its sibling. Punt e Mes is more modern in style, lighter- more refreshing perhaps. Sure you’ll find the notes of stone fruits cooked for long periods of time enrobed in sweet chocolate aromatics and further spiced by baking aromatics. They’re all in there. But what makes Punt e Mes so spectacular is the easy way it mixes in Craft Cocktails. I’m lucky to have a bottle in the fridge; it’s magnificent drizzled over a Rum and Mexican Cola as a very enticing float.
North Fork of Long Island Chardonnay wine is the framework behind this gorgeous effort that uses a plethora of herbs and spices to weave a liquid driven dialog towards pleasure in your creative mixed drinks. But even outside of the cocktail bar, Atsby Amberthorn is a perfectly wonderful way to ease yourself into the evening. A snifter of Atsby and a twist of lemon with a splash of seltzer says to me more than a typical night-cap. This is one that heals the gut while easing that pounding in your aching head.
The inclusion of wine made with Bordeaux varietal Sémillon lends a full, fleshy structure to this French aperitif wine. It’s blended with quinine liqueur from the cinchona bark in Peru, and citrus liqueurs from Spanish, Moroccan and Haitian oranges. Light, delicate and floral, you can sip it chilled or over ice with a twist a lemon or grapefruit.
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog cocktailwhisperer.com and the author of Apothecary Cocktails,Whiskey Cocktails, Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails and Cannabis Cocktails. He can be reached via his website, cocktailwhisperer.com.