Vermouth is a liquor made from wine and infused with herbs and spices. Sweet vermouth, like Martini & Rossi, is often served as an aperitif on its own, while dry vermouth is used in cocktails like gin or vodka martinis.
There are three general styles of vermouth, in order from driest to sweetest: Extra dry, Bianco/white, and Sweet/red:
-Sweet red vermouth is drunk as an apéritif, often straight up, as well as in mixed drinks like the Manhattan.
-Dry white vermouth, along with gin, is a key ingredient in the mixing of martinis.
-Red vermouths are sometimes referred to as Italian vermouths and white vermouths as French vermouths, although not all Italian vermouths are red and not all French vermouths are white. However, the French are generally credited with dry vermouth, while the Italians are credited with sweet vermouth.
Often mixed into cocktails at the bar, vermouth's botanical-infused flavor can assist in the kitchen as well. Whether sweet or dry, use it in recipes just like wine.
Selecting and Buying
Dry (white) vermouth, also called French vermouth, is a light colored wine that is sharply aromatic and dry, but not bitter. It is a key ingredient in mixing dry cocktails like martinis.
Note: Avoid purchasing "cooking vermouth" which has unnecessary added salt and flavorings. With so many uses, a bottle of the real thing is a much better value. Keep it on hand and use as a straight-up aperitif or cocktail mixer as well as a cooking ingredient.
Preparation and Use
The martini is arguably the most classic mixed cocktail. Yet, as simple as it is to make, there is a fastidious attitude about how bartenders mix martinis. In recent years, the vermouth that turns a shot of gin or vodka into a martini has become increasingly ignored. Many people request "dry" or "extra dry" martinis to indicate the absence of vermouth altogether. However, there is an art to making a true martini, and it always requires the addition of dry vermouth.
Add a scoop or 1 cup of ice to the bar shaker. Pour in 2 oz. (count quickly, but steadily to eight using the pour spout) gin or vodka. Traditional martinis are made with gin.
Add the vermouth last. Pour 1/2 oz. (this time count quickly to two using the pour spout) of dry vermouth into the shaker. Immediately put the lid on the shaker, and gently shake it twice.
Remove the top of the shaker, and pour into the martini glass, focusing the stream on the slanted sides of the glass. Add one to three green olives or a lemon/lime twist to taste.
The amount of vermouth used in a classic martini should be at a 4-to-1 ratio. If you desire more gin or vodka (indicated by the term "dry"), use an 8-to-1 ratio. This mixture includes only a splash of dry vermouth. Keep in mind that if you do not use any vermouth, you have technically not created a martini at all. Some recent trends have seen vermouth ratio poured as high as 1-to-1. This equal-parts mixture makes for a very unique drink. You can also use sweet vermouth in martinis, but this takes away from the classic recipe.
Conserving and Storing
Storing Vermouth is like storing wines, here's a few simple things you might want to remember for storing vermouth.
* Keep opened bottles sealed tightly. Use the original cap, a replacement cork or the wine corks that also take the air out of the bottle.
* Never store liquor with speed pourers unless you're using them, these allow air to get inside the bottle.
* Avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold. Also, keep your liquor cabinet away from an exterior wall.
* Avoid bright, direct light.
Vermouth is shelf stable and can be stored upright at room temperature for up to one year. However, since its flavor starts to dissipate after opening, you may choose to refrigerate the bottle after opening and use within three months.