The Ten Best Vermouths

The Ten Best Vermouths

© Shutterstock

Vermouth Negroni Cocktail

The Ten Best Vermouths

© Shutterstock

These fantastic aromatised and fortified wines range in styles from crisp and dry to sweet and unctuous – and everything in between. Every vermouth has bitter backbone from wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, the defining and name-giving component.

Vermouth is used as an ingredient in some of our favourite cocktails – the Martini, the Negroni, the Manhattan and so many more. They also make terrific drinks in their own right served on the rocks, or perhaps with a splash of tonic or soda. Here’s our round-up of the ten best vermouths, old and new.

  1. Antica Formula
  2. Aperitivo! Co ‘Reus’
  3. Azaline
  4. Caperitif
  5. Cinzano 1757 Vermouth di Torino Rosso
  6. Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo
  7. Lustau Vermut Blanco
  8. Noilly Prat Original Dry
  9. Regal Rogue Daring Dry
  10. Valentia Island Vermouth

ANTICA FORMULA 

Relaunched in 2001 by Carpano from its original recipe of 1786, Antica Formula is credited with kicking off the rehabilitation of vermouth in the eyes of modern bartenders. Rich and heavy with vanilla and bitter orange notes, it makes a muscular Negroni, or a gentler aperitif topped up with prosecco in a tall glass over ice.

Antica Formula

Antica Formula

© Carpano.com

APERITIVO! CO 'REUS'

Named after the town at the heart of Spanish vermouth making (where it’s known as vermut) and made in the Spanish off-dry style. Gorgeous layers of baked apples, ripe apricots and butterscotch with a soft herbaceous freshness, this is lovely by itself on the rocks, and is surprisingly brilliant with soft cheeses.

AZALINE 

Inspired by botanicals traded along the ancient Silk Road, Azaline’s exotic charms include saffron, cardamom, juniper, tarragon and gentian in a cherry-scented base of Pinot Noir. Less sweet than most red vermouths, it’s great with just a splash of soda, or mixed with rye whiskey and Campari for a bracing Boulevardier.

CAPERITIF 

Made in Swartland with botanicals from the bush including konfettibos, wilde als and rooibos, Caperitif is a collaboration between Danish mixologist Lars Schmidt and Adi Badenhorst, one of South Africa’s most esteemed and innovative winemakers. This is their recreation of the vermouth of the same name lauded in Harry Craddock’s famous Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930 whose recipe sunk without a trace when production ceased in the 1960s.

Semi-sweet but with a firm burnt-orange bitterness, it’s delicious chilled by itself, or in a Cabaret cocktail - equal parts of Caperitif and gin shaken with ice and a dash each of absinthe and Angostura bitters, served straight up in a chilled glass with a maraschino cherry.


CINZANO 1757 VERMOUTH DI TORINO ROSSO

An homage to brothers Giovanni and Carlo Cinzano who created the first modern vermouth in Turin in 1757, and with it the beginnings of this giant global brand. Woody spices, dried figs and candied fruits sing along with a touch of astringent herbs. Use in any cocktail calling for a classic Italian red vermouth or serve it alone alongside blue cheese.


COCCHI ROSA APERITIV

From Cocchi’s fine stable of aromatised wines, this not strictly speaking a vermouth, for it contains no wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) but nevertheless is an ace aperitif, and such a pretty colour. Its red-berry wine base is flavoured with rose petals, gentian and ginger which stand up very well when mixed 1:3 with pink grapefruit juice and a dash of soda to make an Alba Rossa. Or mix it with tonic as a refreshing (and less punchy) alternative to a G&T.


LUSTAU VERMUT BLANCO 

Lustau is most famous as a sherry maker but has joined the vermouth party with this wonderful off-dry blend of crisp Fino sherry and floral Moscatel wine with chamomile, rosemary and a bright, lemony zest bringing up the rear. Drink it chilled or on the rocks as an aperitif with green olives and toasted almonds or try it with a cheese board after dinner.


NOILLY PRAT ORIGINAL DRY 

While Italy is associated with sweet red vermouths, the traditional French style is white and dry, and this is the quintessential example. Made in the southern French fishing village of Marseillan since 1843, the base wine is aged in barrels left outside where it oxidises slightly and takes on its distinctive salty twang. Use in a classic dry Martini or serve over ice with a slice of lemon alongside oysters or langoustines under the summer sun.

Aperitivo Reus

Aperitivo Reus

© theaperitivo.co

Aperitivo Reus

Aperitivo Reus

© theaperitivo.co

Azaline Botanicals

Azaline Botanicals

© azaline-vermouth.com


REGAL ROGUE DARING DRY 

Daring Dry is the extra-dry iteration from Regal Rogue’s smart range of ‘quaffing vermouths’ made with organic Australian wine and indigenous botanicals sourced from Aboriginal farmers. It packs a deeply savoury, herbaceous punch along with a white-pepper warmth; mix it with equal measures of gin or vodka to make a splendid wet Martini or slosh it over ice with tonic and a sprig of thyme for a brilliantly appetising sundowner.

VALENTIA ISLAND VERMOUTH 

This brand-new vermouth, the first from Ireland, is made by two women on the remote Valentia Island off the wild west coast of the Emerald Isle. Amber-coloured, sweet and luscious, it’s heavily scented with locally foraged gorse along with yarrow, nutmeg and star anise and plenty more besides. Fantastic to sip as a contemplative digestif, but it also makes a very classy spritz topped with prosecco in place of the more usual Aperol.

Regal Rogue

Regal Rogue

© regalrogue.com

FIND OUT MORE