Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: Vermouth

Before ordering our drink today, let's talk about a common ingredient: vermouth. This charming 60s-era advertisement from Martini & Rossi calls to mind several drinks made with vermouth. What is vermouth, exactly? Here's a short explanation from Playboy's Host & Bar Book:
Okay. Maybe you're familiar with the difference between sweet vermouth and dry vermouth. Basically, one is clear(ish) and one is dark red/brownish. In Martini & Rossi's advertisement above, they feature 6 different options: an Americano, a Negroni, sweet vermouth on the rocks, dry vermouth on the rocks, a Martini, and a Manhattan. Before we get to the recipes for these drinks, let's consider for a moment the idea of vermouth on the rocks. Whether dry or sweet, would you consider it for a drink order? It's an aperitif -- and it's definitely an acquired taste, one which RPR doesn't have. Still, some old ladies might still order a vermouth on the rocks. Good for them. With some courage, they might also work their way up to an Americano:

This is a little light, a little sparkly! How about a Negroni:

A little more substantial. On to a Manhattan:

And the granddaddy of all cocktails:

So, vermouth (both sweet and dry) makes a lot of great drinks possible. It marries very well with spirits. Vermouth by itself, though -- well, give it a try and see if it's for you. But, the real point of drink mastery is best illustrated (again) by Playboy's Host & Bar Book:

Suddenly, it seems like the vermouth is merely incidental. Cheers!

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