Aussie craft vermouth is what happens when you combine the incredible wine industry we have here with the Australian craft distillers that produce such amazing spirits. Here are some cocktails that show off the flavours that vermouth can give you.
Vermouth seems to play a part in so many of our favourite cocktails, but it’s usually a dash here or 5ml there. It’s a shame, because so much work and craft go into making this spirit.
On its own, a well-made craft vermouth is a wonderful thing you can just enjoy on its own on the rocks.
But to begin with, let’s look at what vermouth is and where it comes from.
What Is Vermouth?
Vermouth is a fortified wine, infused with a variety of botanicals, including the infamous wormwood, which is where vermouth gets its name (it’s a French degradation of the German ‘warmwut’, literally ‘wormwood’).
The process begins with a base wine, which is then fortified with a neutral spirit to increase its alcohol content. The infusion of botanicals is the heart of vermouth production, with each brand and type offering its unique blend of flavours.
Once the infusion is complete, the vermouth is aged to achieve balance and complexity.
Where Does Vermouth Come From?
Vermouth's history goes back to ancient times and there are even versions of it appearing in Chinese and Indian recipes as far back as 1200BCE.
It was also common in Europe from as early as 300BCE, but these ‘proto-vermouths’ were used for medicinal purposes, wormwood has long been used to help digestive issues.
Vermouth’s modern form evolved in 16th Century Europe, specifically in Italy and France. Italian vermouth was initially sweet and red, first created in Turin in 1786. In the early 1800s, French vermouth emerged, which was white and dry.
How Do I Use Vermouth?
As we said earlier, the high-quality Australian craft vermouth you can find here is delicious on its own over ice as an aperitif.
You can also drink it with a light mixer (i.e. not cola).
As a general rule, dry vermouths work well with tonic, while sweet vermouths are better with soda.
Similarly, when you’re pairing vermouth with other spirits, usually dry vermouths go well with white spirits like gin and vodka, and darker or sweeter vermouths go with darker spirits like rum or whisky.
But these are a rules that are easily (and deliciously!) broken.
7 Vermouth Cocktails To Try
1. Vermouth and soda - 50ml dry vermouth (red, white or rosé), topped up with soda water
Build over ice in a collins glass and garnish with citrus. As mentioned, this also works well with tonic—try both and decide which you prefer. It’s simple, refreshing and absolutely delicious.
2. Americano - 35ml Campari, 25ml red/rosé vermouth, 200ml or topped with soda
Stir vermouth and Campari over plenty of ice in a mixing jar, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Add soda and stir gently.
3. Classic martini - one part dry vermouth, six parts gin
Stir over lots of ice in a mixing jar then strain into a martini glass. There are lots of opinions on how to make the perfect martini though, so find a way that suits you.
And the 1:6 ratio of vermouth and gin is a very contentious issue. Here’s more about how much vermouth you can use in a martini.
4. Bronx - 50ml gin, 25ml sweet vermouth, 25ml dry vermouth, 25ml fresh orange juice
Stir gin and vermouths well with lots of ice in a mixing jar and strain into a cocktail glass. Add the orange juice on top.
This cocktail works off a ‘perfect martini’ template of equal parts sweet and dry vermouth and then an equal part of gin to the sum of the vermouths.
Equal parts gin and dry vermouth is known as a 50/50.
5. Boulevardier - equal parts rosé vermouth, Campari and whisky
Stir the vermouth, Campari and whisky over plenty of ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large cube of ice. The whisky cousin of the classic martini.
6. Manhattan - 60ml rye whisky, 15ml dry vermouth, 15ml sweet vermouth, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Stir over plenty of ice in a mixing jar and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
7. Negroni sbagliato - 30ml Campari, 30ml sweet or rosé vermouth, 50ml Prosecco or to top up
Meaning ‘wrong’ or ‘mistaken’ in Italian, the spagliato is the result of a happy error made in a Milanese bar in the ‘70s, when the bartender added Prosecco instead of gin to the negroni glass.
Pour and gently stir all ingredients over plenty of ice in a stemmed spritz glass.