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The Essential Vermouths for Mixing

The brands to stock in every style, plus how to use them.

What makes a vermouth a vermouth? Never has the question been more difficult to answer.

Vermouth Styles

Sweet

Also known as red, rosso, rouge or Italian, sweet vermouth ranges in color from garnet to dark caramel. It has an average of 150 grams of sugar per liter and is typically rich and spicy, with lightly herbaceous notes. Vermouth di Torino is an expression whose ingredients and production are protected by an appellation of origin. Subcategories include Vermouth Alla Vaniglia, a regional style prominently flavored with vanilla (Carpano Antica Formula is a notable example) and Vermouth con Bitter, also known as a vermouth amaro, which has an extra dose of bittering agents like gentian. Cinchona lends a distinctive bitterness to Chinato, but this style, exclusively made in Italy’s Piedmont region, typically uses a premium wine as its base.

Dry

Also called French vermouth, this style usually contains less than 50 grams of sugar per liter, with a clear to slightly golden hue, and is generally more floral and herbaceous than sweet vermouth. Marseille dry vermouth was first produced by Joseph Noilly in the early 1800s in Marseille, France, and the lightly aged blend is considered to be the first commercial dry vermouth. Vermouth de Chambéry is a lighter, more understated style developed by Dolin in the early 1800s in southern France.

Blanc/Bianco

Known as blanc, bianco or white, this clear, semisweet vermouth has distinctive floral and herbal notes. The French vermouth house Dolin, in Chambéry, France—the only protected appellation of origin for vermouth aside from Italy’s Vermouth di Torino—pioneered this style with its Blanc Vermouth Chambéry.

While the classic expressions—sweet, dry, blanc/bianco—remain the same, the bottles, brands and DNA of each continue to shapeshift, expanding the boundaries of what one would typically categorize as vermouth.

At its core, vermouth is a bittersweet, low-ABV, aromatized and fortified wine, flavored with proprietary blends of herbs, spices and bitter botanicals. It’s bolstered with a distilled base spirit and typically sweetened with sugar. But each expression, producer and bottling has its own traditions, history and production methods for a consumer to consider before even twisting off the bottle cap.

“There is a lot of excitement building, not only for the category of vermouth, but for fortified wines in general,” says Stacey Swenson, bar director at Mattos Hospitality, which includes Altro Paradiso, Lodi and Estela in New York. In fact, Swenson and bar industry veteran Chris Patino recently launched their own line of Italian vermouth with Villa Massa, called Vermouth Giardino, that was developed specifically with cocktails in mind.

Although the cocktail renaissance has helped vermouth take its place in the spotlight as a key component in classic drinks, it’s still in need of evangelists willing to demystify the category as it continues to expand. “It is an exciting time to preach the good word of vermouth,” says Matt Chavez, bar manager of the Italian restaurant Ci Siamo in New York, noting an influx of Italian and French products newly available in the United States alongside an array of New World producers. “Every product tells its own story and lends its own unique hand to classic and esoteric cocktail building.”

The biggest change to the category over the past few years? The increasing popularity of vermouth from Spain, particularly a new crop of sherry-based bottlings from both Lustau and González Byass; they join smaller, idiosyncratic offerings from the likes of Fred Jerbis (from Italy), La Quintinye (France) and Channing Daughters (United States), and a general reshuffling of allegiances in the classic categories. To get a sense of how this new multiplicity is finding a place behind the bar right now, we spoke to bartenders across the country about their essential brands and bottlings, and how to use them. Here’s what they had to say.

Sweet Vermouth

Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino

Since its introduction to the market just over a decade ago, this distinctive expression—based on a historic recipe from 1891 that has notes of bitter orange, cocoa and aromatic spices—remains the category go-to among bartenders. “For cocktails, it’s Cocchi Vermouth di Torino for me,” says Alex Jump, bar manager of Death & Co. Denver. “It’s well-balanced, approachable and has enough body to stand up in any Manhattan or Negroni variation.” Combining different brands of vermouth to create a “house” sweet vermouth blend remains a common practice at many bars; at R&D in Philadelphia, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is batched with equal parts Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry and Lustau Vermut Rojo. “The hallmarks of each of the three vermouths blend nicely,” says R&D bartender Resa Mueller, “resulting in a workhorse sweet blend that doesn’t overpower the base spirit.”

Try it in: Manhattan, Negroni

  • Price: $26.99
  • From: Cocconato, Asti, Piedmont, Italy
  • ABV: 16 percent

Lustau Vermut Rojo

While the tradition of drinking and appreciating local vermouth is a way of life in Spain, the country’s vermouths are just now finding greater market share in the United States. The most exciting category to reemerge includes the sherry-based vermouths coming from some of Jerez de la Frontera’s top bodegas, like Lustau and González Byass. “Lustau was among the first to revive their house recipe, and the shock of this marvel set off a cascade of other sherry producers and vintners scrambling to make their own vermouths in Spain,” says Toby Cecchini, owner of Brooklyn’s The Long Island Bar. Lustau Vermut Rojo is based on a blend of amontillado and Pedro Ximénez sherries, each aged an average of 10 years, and shows classic oxidative sherry notes of nuts and dried fruit alongside classic vermouth aromatics.

Try it in: Adonis, Vermouth and Soda

  • Price: $35
  • From: Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain
  • ABV: 15 percent

Del Professore Vermouth Rosso di Torino

It didn’t take long for this distinctly Italian vermouth—made from a blend of Italian wine aromatized with Alpine mint, cloves, wormwood and rhubarb, then aged for several months in oak barrels—to move up from “wild card” to essential status. Thanks to a wider availability, this collaboration between the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy in Rome, chef Federico Ricatto, and Carlo Quaglia (of the historic Antica Distilleria Quaglia, outside of Turin, Italy) continues to enlist new devotees with its distinctive herbal profile. Jamie Boudreau, owner of Canon in Seattle, has been a longtime admirer. “Del Professore not only plays well with others but is bold and delicious enough to drink on its own, without taking over a cocktail recipe,” he says. “The price is very fair, and the vermouth honors traditional methods in addition to being conceived by a bartender.

Try it in: Americano, Negroni

Honorable mentions: Carpano Antica Formula, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Rouge, Mancino Vermouth di Torino Rosso Amaranto

  • Price: $30
  • From: Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Asti, Piedmont, Italy
  • ABV: 18 percent

Dry Vermouth

Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Dry

When you’re looking for a classic French vermouth, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Dry, whose namesake distillery in southern France was founded in 1821, remains the bottle to beat. “This is truly a utility dry vermouth. It’s wonderfully balanced and perfect for any Martini,” says Jump. It’s built on a base of wine made from the ugni blanc grape, macerated with a blend of 15 herbs and botanicals, including wormwood, rose petal and orange bark. It’s an essential bottle for Swenson as well: “Dolin dry has always been the go-to for well vermouth because its flavors are soft,” she says. “And you can slip a little in a vodka Martini drinker’s glass and they won’t have a heart attack.”

Try it in: Bamboo, Bronx, Martini

  • Price: $17.99
  • From: Chambéry, Savoie, France
  • ABV: 17.5 percent

Bordiga Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry

The Bordiga distillery, located in Italy’s Occitan Alps, has been making vermouth just outside of Turin since 1888. To make their Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry, 30 botanicals—each macerated in alcohol separately—are combined with a base wine made from both cortese and moscato grapes. Many of the plants, including gentian root and flowers, are gathered by hand from the foothills of the Alps. “This vermouth is aggressive, with grassy notes of lemongrass, chamomile and white blossom,” says Chavez. “You should use if you want to boost the botanicals in a juniper-forward gin.”

Try it in: Fitty-Fitty, Milano-Torino

  • Price: $30
  • From: Turin, Piedmont, Italy
  • ABV: 18.5 percent

Mulassano Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry

This vermouth, which is also produced by Bordiga, is inspired by the house vermouth first served at the legendary Café Mulassano (established in 1879) in Turin’s Piazza Castello. The original recipe that the Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry is based on was created by the café’s founder, Amilcare Mulassano, and master distiller Pietro Bordiga, using local Alpine herbs alongside wormwood, cinchona bark, vanilla, cardamom, coriander and lemon. Award-winning bartender Natasha David, author of the forthcoming book Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails, can’t stop singing the praises of her new favorite dry vermouth. “Mulassano Vermouth Extra Dry is so perfect in a 50/50 Martini; I get lots of tarragon, bright lemon peel and a hint of vanilla,” she says, adding that it’s equally delicious over ice with a fresh lemon slice. 

Try it in: 50/50 Martini

Honorable mentions: Alessio Dry Vermouth, Lo-Fi Dry Vermouth, Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth

  • Price: $33
  • From: Turin, Piedmont, Italy
  • ABV: 18 percent

Bianco/Blanc Vermouth

Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

Evocative of stone fruit, delicate pine and fresh flowers, this subtly sweet white vermouth is macerated with 32 spices, herbs and botanicals, including Alpine gentian and wormwood, basil, cinnamon and hibiscus. The bartenders ID’d it as a utility player that has a particular fondness for gin, white rum and agave spirits. Jump notes that the blanc vermouth shows more citrus notes than the brand’s dry expression, and that it also plays well in “stirred Martini-type cocktails.”

Try it in: Eeyore’s Requiem, El Presidente, White Negroni

  • Price: $18.99
  • From: Chambéry, Savoie, France
  • ABV: 16 percent

Lustau Vermut Blanco

“This is really something special,” says Chavez of this bright and herbaceous blanco vermouth built on a base of fino and muscatel sherries. The nine botanicals used to flavor the blend, gentian and chamomile among them, are individually macerated for optimal flavor, resulting in an herbaceous, floral vermouth that also shows some bitter almond, a hallmark of fino. “It carries enough sugar content to elevate any cocktail, but the uniqueness comes from the flavor profile,” Chavez adds. “The finish has a presence of marjoram and oregano, which leaves a unique, almost pizza-like, presence on the palate.”

Try it in: Rule of Three

Honorable mentions: Carpano Bianco Vermouth, Comoz Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

  • Price: $23
  • From: Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain
  • ABV: 15 percent

Wild Cards

Mancino Vermouth Sakura

Among the creative expressions of vermouth from Mancino, founded by renowned Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino, you’ll find a delicate, pink-hued sakura version, whose annual release is limited to 4,000 bottles. Among the 20 botanicals in the blend are Japanese cherry blossoms, from Kyoto, and colorful Italian viola flowers, which lend a distinctive sweet and floral profile. “I love Mancino vermouths and the Sakura is crazy lovely,” says award-winning Seattle chef and author Renee Erickson, who uses it in a Japanese-inspired Vesper at her bar Deep Dive. “Even with the cherry blossom and violet, it manages not to be overly floral and can be really special in cocktails.” 

Try it in: Champagne Cocktail, Vesper

  • Price: $45
  • From: Asti, Piedmont, Italy
  • ABV: 18 percent

Lustau Vermut Rosé

It’s no surprise for fans of this Spanish producer that Lustau’s entry into the rosé vermouth category is a standout. The base—a blend of fino sherry, moscatel and tintilla de rota—is flavored with rich and aromatic spices like cardamom, nutmeg and vanilla along with wormwood. “The sherry base sets this phenomenal vermouth apart,” says David, “and the lovely notes of cola and wild, super-ripe strawberries make it an ideal candidate for a spritz or a highball with tonic water.”

Try it in: Vermut Spritz, Vermouth and Tonic

  • Price: $23
  • From: Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain
  • ABV: 15 percent

Fred Jerbis Vermut 25

The portfolio of gin, amaro, bitters and vermouth from Federico Cremasco (the “Fred” behind the brand’s name) instantly attracted the attention of bartenders and bottle shops when it first became available in the United States in 2019. Atlanta bartender Orestes Cruz is particularly drawn to Fred Jerbis Vermut 25. The rich but delicate expression is made from a base of verduzzo ripasso and 25 botanicals—many grown and cultivated in Cremasco’s own garden—including three varieties of wormwood, bright Italian citrus and fragrant herbs, then aged for up to a year.

Try it in: Blood and Sand, Martinez, Negroni

Honorable mentions: Channing Daughters VerVino Vermouth Variation 4, Lo-Fi Sweet Vermouth, Regal Rogue Wild Rosé Vermouth 

  • Price: $24.99
  • From: Polcenigo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • ABV: 18 percent

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Tagged: cocktails, vermouth