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Sweet Vermouth

I searched and was surprised not to find a thread about this already (if there is one, my apologies - someone give me a link and I'll head in that direction).

What are your favorites for keeping in your home bar, and why? Doesn't have to be strictly sweet vermouths, but bottles that approximate that role in cocktails (i.e. Punt e Mes qualifies, and there are probably some amaros that fit the bill).

I had my eyes opened (wide!) by a bottle of Carpano Antica Formula that was gifted to me, but now that it's gone I don't want to just keep buying the same and am curious as to what others feel complements their manhattans, negronis, vieux carres, etc.

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  1. There's a recent and pretty extensive website on this you might want to check out: http://vermouth101.com/index.html

    As far as my favorites, Dolin, Carpano, Vya, Punt e Mes. M & R is usually my budget option, but currently have a bottle of Cinzano open which also seems to work.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nickls

      Interesting site and good info, but not much in the way of reviews or opinions about why one might choose one style or brand over another. Good reading nonetheless.

    2. I may collect a few knife stabs, but my usual sweet is Punt e Mes. Yes, its is both very bold and very bitter, but I haven't had it ruin a cocktail yet by overwhelming the other ingredients. If I were concerned about that I'd scale back the quantity and adjust the sweetness.

      I also like Dolin and Boissiere (and the dry versions of both, too).

      While I like Carpano Antica, I find that the vanilla interferes with more recipes than it helps. It is lovely as is, with some lemon, and I like it in a Manhattan, particularly with a very bold rye. Other here feel it is too "big" for a Manhattan, a view I can understand.

      My feeling about sweet vermouth is that it should be good enough to drink as is (or maybe with lemon or in a duplex with dry vermouth).

      +1 on Martin's excellent vermouth101 site, although he more discusses the vermouths than rates them.

      --
      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

      2 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        I also like Punt e Mes as an all-purpose go-to sweet vermouth, probably because I like bitterness. A boulevardier with Ritt 100, Punt e Mes and Campari (plus an orange twist) is a thing of beauty.

        And I also think that Carpano Antica is probably best on the rocks alone (maybe with a twist). That's how I finished my bottle so quickly. Too tasty by itself to mix much.

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          I'm with Dan 100% on his thoughts. I also like switching in Amaros for sweet vermouths.

          I came up with a Manhattan variant called the Eastchester, it needs these exact ingredients to make it work.

          The Eastchester
          2 oz. Rittenhouse Rye 100
          .75 oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
          2 squirts of Dutch's Colonial Cocktail Bitters

          Stirred on ice, strained into a chilled coupe, garnished with a flamed orange zest.

        2. I would argue that Punt e Mes is no longer a sweet vermouth similar to how quinquinas are a different class due to the quinine; Punt e Mes is an amaro-vermouth hybrid. But one thing it has going for it is that it is made with red wine. Most sweet vermouths are white wine colored with botanicals and caramel coloring. Notable exceptions are Vya, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, and Carpano Antica. I find that the extra red grape notes add a luxurious element to the vermouth that is missing in say Martini & Rossi or Cinzano.

          Right now our house sweet vermouth is Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. It is fuller in flavor but not so domineering like Carpano Antica, and it is also cheaper ($20 vs. $30-32).

          On the more mellow end of vermouths, I do like Dolin's product a lot.

          http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

          2 Replies
          1. re: yarm

            Interesting about the wine base. Thanks.

            I agree with you, but Punt e Mes is a lovely, flavorful sweet vermouth that happens to be more bitter (quite a bit more bitter). For a bitter lover, It goes wherever sweet vermouth goes.

            While I like the Cocchi vermouth, I found it too sweet. I had difficulty using it in recipes without otherwise adjusting the sugar. This could just be my (well-established) low tolerance for sugar, but I wished that I could have the flavor just with less sugar. I couldn't make it go where sweet vermouth goes, ironically. Ideally, I would like to drink an aperitif without thinking of Manischewitz, even if it is passover. ;)

            --
            www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

            1. re: yarm

              I also agree with Mr. Yarm, and Dan's comment on Cocchi's sweetness, but I adjust accordingly. Not just with cocchi, but whenever using a different vermouth or amaro.

            2. I'm with Dan in the minority finding Carpano Antica just too overpowering with vanilla for a cocktail.
              My current faves are Dolin and Cocchi Torino. Vya is very good but pricey in PHX (compared to Dolin). I use MR when I want to have more control in tailoring the herbal/bitter character with bitters or infusions.

              Also agree with JMF on trading out an amaro for sweet vermouth. I like using Ramazotti, montenegro or Fernet with rye/bourbon variations.

              4 Replies
              1. re: BillB656

                Bill who sells Vya in the Phx area? I have been wanting to try it but have never seen it for sale

                As to the question asked:

                I like Punt e Mas for Negroni's and Carpano for Manhatten and Bijou

                Generally use Dolin for white and if i dont have either of the other two listed above and have not tried Vya yet

                1. re: Dapuma

                  Dapuma, BevMo carries Vya, at least the one over at Tempe Marketplace does.

                  Where do you find Dolin? I got so frustrated trying to source it that I ended up mail ordering.

                  1. re: BillB656

                    you know what i have noily prat heh - i always get it confused for Dolin

                    i just ordered vya because i was getting some other stuff online and it didnt cost more to ship it

                    good to know about vya - bevmo shows they have it for pick up in cali, but not in az, so I called on some Pisco and there is no distributor here for the Pisco I wanted, so i would guess its the same thing - no az outlet - mail order only

                    Total Wine at the biltmore has pretty good selection of vermouths

                    1. re: Dapuma

                      Thanks! It's been about 6 months since I bought the Vya at Tempe Marketplace so they might have discontinued. Bummer.

              2. How about Tribuno, Stock and Gallo? I see them on the shelves regularly and assume they're not very good (because they're like $4/bottle), but I've never actually tried any of them.

                3 Replies
                1. re: monopod

                  Add Martini and Rossi, and you have just defined the choices in almost every store in Florida. And the last two I ordered on line poured brown, so I am off that, even with a refund.

                  1. re: monopod

                    I have heard that Stock isn't all that bad (that came from a bartender with a palate I respect). I have never heard anyone speak of Tribuno or Gallo (even though they are all around here).

                    Although it is strange to see people mix $30+ bottles of whiskey or gin with cheap or old vermouth. A cocktail is a sum of its parts so going all out on some of the ingredients can still not make the best drink than one with an even keel of ingredients.

                    http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: yarm

                      Mom and Dad taught me from the start that you get more bang for the buck to double the price on the mixers rather than on the alcohol. Top shelf mixers trump well alcohol, but bottom shelf mixers will degrade top shelf booze.

                  2. I love Noilly Pratt. Kind of surprised to see the lack of mention. I will try Cocchi Vermouth di Torino when I get a chance. Thanks for the rec. Alsi like Punt e Mes especially in a Red Hook...

                    1. Carpano Antica Formula immediately became my go-to Italian vermouth as soon as it hit the shelves, replacing Dolin rouge, which itself had only recently become available at the time.

                      Since then, I've enjoyed all sorts of aromatized wines as vermouth in my cocktails: Punt e Mes, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Vya, Perucchi. Even close relations like Barolo Chinoto, Bonal, Dubonnet. All of them have their place and are too much fun to play with to zero in on "the one" vermouth to always use.

                      But lately, I do find myself coming back to the straightforward Dolin rouge more often than ever. Especially for a Manhattan. And even more so for a Manhattan featuring some interesting bitters I may have found or made. It's a great vermouth that lays a foundation without stealing a bit of the show.

                      I'm particularly fond of a Whistle Pig Rye/Dolin Rouge/Coffee-Pecan Bitters Manhattan these days. I think Punt e Mes, Carpano Antica, or Cocchi Vermouth di Torino wouldn't play as nice.

                      1. I use Dolin Dry and Dolin Rouge as my standbys. I found them to be noticeably better than M&R and somewhat more appealing alone than Noily, though I like the latter alright.

                        There is a place nearby that sells 350 ml bottles of Dolin so I buy a new bottle of white and red each month. Last month I used about 3/4 of the dry and all of the red. We'll see if I can do the same this month. I like the fact that the smaller bottles allow me to keep keep my vermouth somewhat fresh by replacing the bottles each month (I also keep them vacu-sealed in the fridge after opening).

                        I keep meaning to buy a bottle of Carpano, but the price tag irks me. One month I'm just going to devote myself to all things sweet vermouth, buy the pricey bottle, and set out to finish it before it starts to turn.

                        On a side note, in general, how long do y'all keep a bottle of open vermouth? Like I said, I tend to to get a new bottle about every month, but a lot of that is owing to the 350 ml size of the bottles I buy. I REALLY wish more vermouth was sold at that size. Now that I think about it, I think they sell Noilly in that size around here as well.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                          375ml bottles are pretty expensive per ounce. The per-ounce price of 1 liter of Carpano Antica probably isn't far from the per-ounce price of your 375 of Dolin. I've found that I can use up a full bottle of vermouth before it goes bad -- definitely sweet which seems to last a looong time if stored properly. I recommend you try Carpano Antica and Carpano Punt e Mes. I bet you can even buy Dolin dry in 750ml bottles, if you evaculate it, refrigerate it, and use it with some frequency.

                          --
                          www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            Yeah, the price per ounce is no doubt more expensive, but at least for dry vermouth, I feel like it's negligible. It takes me about a month to go through a 375 bottle of dry vermouth, but it would take much longer for a 750 ml. I've tasted the results of a nearly two-month old bottle of Dolin Dry (refrigerated and vacu-sealed after each use) and it had noticeably turned - the aftertaste had definite off notes amounting to mild vinegary-ness. So, if I'm going to need to buy a new bottle every four weeks anyway, might as well pay less per bottle.

                            I do agree though that sweet seems more forgiving of an extended shelf life. I also agree that I should just go ahead and buy a bottle of Carpano and treat myself :)