Ali Coleman
Ali Coleman

What is vermouth?

Vermouth is a wine fortified with a spirit and flavoured with botanicals. Vermouth has been popularised as a key ingredient in many classic cocktails such as the martini and the Manhatten, but this beverage has a deep history beyond shaken or stirred.

How is vermouth made? And what exactly is in it?

The main ingredient in vermouth is wine - normally white but it can be made from red or rosé wines too. Vermouth makers combine the wine with a spirit - often brandy and then add various flavours from herbs and spices. Typically, the spices and herbs used are:

Cardamom
Juniper
Cloves
Nutmeg
Coriander
Chamomile
Cinnamon
Sage
Quinine
Citrus peel
Marjoram
Hyssop
Ginger

What's the story behind vermouth?

During the middle ages, vermouth was used as a medicinal tonic - with the name actually derived from the German word for wormwood. It was common for people back then to think wormwood had curative properties but when it was discovered the plant was poisonous vermouth makers had to rejig the recipe. As an aperitif and addition to cocktails, however, it has remained popular since the late 18th century.

How many types of vermouth are there?

There’s a dazzling array of vermouth-based cocktails such as the Rob Roy (whisky, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters) and the Manhattan Cocktail (Angostura bitters, rye or Canadian whisky, sweet red vermouth and Maraschino cherry).

Have a look here for some great Vermouth bases for sparkling cocktails.

Most favourited articles