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Jan 14, 2014 06:03 AM

What is good vermouth?

Recently my attempts at Manhattans and Gibsons have been sabotaged by the lack of good vermouth. I need to know what brands I should get next time I go to a liquor store and which to avoid. I plead the highly informed mixologists on this board.

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  1. We have had good luck with Noilly Pratt...both dry and sweet.

    1. Read this: Martin Doudoroff knows his stuff. Really.

      Okay, you're back. What, you didn't click the link? Seriously. Go read it.

      Opinions vary, but many people prefer a French brand for French (i.e. dry) vermouth and an Italian brand for Italian (i.e. sweet) vermouth.

      Dolin is very popular for dry. Noilly Pratt is classic (I haven't compared the two dry versions -- google if you're interested in reading about them.) I happen to very much like Boissiere dry, which has a unique (and to me pleasant) flavor.

      Cocchi sweet (vermouth di Torino) is highly regarded, different, and a bit sweeter than most. I happen to like Punt e Mes, which is a highly-bitter sweet vermouth (sort of a cross between an amaro and a vermouth). From your other posts, I don't think it would be your thing. Others like Carpano Antica Forumula, but it has a heavy vanilla note and is also a bit more bitter than the average sweet vermouth. Some also feel that it is too strongly flavored for Manhattan, but we all agree it is delicious straight (or with a squeeze of lemon). Can't find any of these, or want a cheap classic? Cinzano or Martini & Rossi would be good choices.

      I find that sweet vermouth lasts well, but dry picks up a vinegary overly-oxidized flavor when it's not fresh. You might want to try to find 375ml bottles (Dolin is available around Boston, maybe others), or open the bottle and then re-bottle into smaller bottles, filling them right to the brim. Refrigeration and (maybe) evacuation help.

      -- | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

      3 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        I'm a fan of Carpano Antica Formula but its not easy for me to get.

        Nolly Pratt is my everyday vermouth.

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          That's a great link! Just spent a few minutes there and I already learned about a product I want to try. For the sake of my wallet, perhaps I shouldn't spend anymore time there.

          I'll add Vya to the list of quality higher-end vermouths that are fairly easy to obtain. (Although not everyone is as much of a fan as I happen to be.) The sweet has a definite cinnamon presence and can be overwhelming, but is fantastic in a Manhattan in my humble opinion. The dry is perhaps a bit too flavorful for a Martini, but it's very nice straight with a twist and maybe a dash of bitters.

          1. re: davis_sq_pro

            Martin's a friend of mine. He and anotheer friend, Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh developed the first real cocktail website back in the day. Cocktail DB.

            It's a good article. But I personally don't care for Vya unless it has improved drastically in the past few years. I thought it boring.

        2. Agree with Evergreen Dan: I prefer Boissiere vermouth (dry) to Noilly Prat (although the latter is fine.) Boissiere is slightly more floral to my taste. Dolin is rather austere for me and over-priced.

          1 Reply
          1. re: penthouse pup

            I like Dolin and Boisserie, but they are different.

          2. Dry? Sweet? New? Old?

            Hate to sound repetitive, but I generally buy HALF-bottles (375ml) of French dry vermouth -- right now Dolin is quite easy for me to find locally, but if I can't I end up with Noilly Prat (but prefer the difficult to find Boissiere).

            For a "pure" sweet vermouth, I will get Vya -- but that's for others. I prefer Caprano Antica Formula, either straight as an aperitif or, in fact, in a (definitely) not-so-dry Martini (with a lemon peel, never an olive; olives I use in truly dry Martinis).

            1 Reply
            1. re: zin1953

              Interestingly, Dolin has only recently (within a year or two) become available in NYC while Boissiere is quite easily found. (It's imported by Palm Bay, somewhat surprised it's not found easily in CA.

            2. Some that haven't been mentioned that I have been playing around with lately and like a lot are Contratto Americano Rosso, Contratto Vermouth Rosso, and Imbue Petal & Thorn Vermouths.

              I have notes but have to figure out where they are. I packed away all the info from my last consulting gig and seem to have misplaced it when preparing for a flood possibility last week.

              4 Replies
              1. re: JMF

                I have Petal & Thorn open at the moment. It's very nice straight. I would not recommend it for a "first" or "only" dry vermouth, however.

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  True, but great to have in the repertoire of good vermouth.

                2. re: JMF

                  JMF - I remember you mentioning a while back that you like Perucchi quite a bit - do you still feel that way?

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    Yes, very much so. I haven't had a bottle in awhile, but plan to remedy that soon.