so i wanted to make a manhattan this evening and became lost in the vermouth section of the liquor store. what's the best sweet vermouth?
your suggestions would be sweet.
We've been having a lot of fun with Vya from California. It's made in sweet or dry versions. Here's a link to a discussion about it and Quady winery in Madera.
Depends on what you like and what you want it for. If you're just mixing a little here and there, the mass market stuff (Noilly Prat or Cinzano, avoid M&R, LeJon, and Gallo) is okay. But frankly, they're not very interesting, especially as straight apertifs.
Moving up to the good stuff, Punt e Mes is a classic. Very orangey, very bitter. Not too sweet. Very complex. Vya is smoother and more drinkable. It's not overly bitter, but is less interesting. Carpano Antica Formula combines the best of both worlds. It supposedly uses the recipe that Antonio Benedetto Carpano used for the first vermouth ever made, in 1786. It's perfectly balanced and incredibly complex. Slightly sweet, slightly bitter, very aromatic. Each sip leaves you wanting a little more.