Drink Review: Vermouth

Date:03-09-2013 07:58:04 read:0

Drink Review: Vermouth

Vermouth is making a return to the fashionable-drinks cabinet.

L-R: Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Italy; Antica Formula, Carpano, Italy; Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry, France Photo: PEARTREE

If you'd told me a decade ago that vermouth would be back in fashion in 2013 I'd have laughed. This is a drink that I (and many of us, perhaps) associate with our grandparents' generation – it was cool to sip pink Cinzano on the rocks from a cut-glass tumbler in 1971, but it certainly hasn't been since.

Until now. For these fortified, aromatic wines, usually Italian and French, made with wine and spirit and infused with herbs, barks, roots and flowers, are bang on trend. All right, not so much the pink ones, but certainly the white vermouths and, most of all, the sweet red-amber styles. And don't take just my word for it. Gareth Evans, the award-winning bartender at Social Eating House in London, says: "We use a large array of vermouths, because of the trend toward spirits-based cocktails. They are a major part of these, and they give people the option of a drink that's lighter in alcohol than traditional spirits." Think 16 per cent, and pour over ice or use in cocktails such as negronis or Manhattans.

The Mele e Pere trattoria in Soho, London, even makes its own vermouths – a dry citrus-based white, a herbaceous, bitter red and a sweet, fruity one – as well as stocking great brands including Cocchi and Antica Formula (coolest of all, this season, is to sip the latter over ice). Many other restaurants are picking up on the trend, but where are the fine vermouths on the high street, the delicious white Noilly Prat aside? Here are some rare and fascinating gems you can get by mail order.


Cocchi Vermouth di Torino Italy (, £18.99 for 75cl)

From a 19th-century recipe, recently revived to celebrate Cocchi's 120th anniversary. Amber-hued, highly scented, with dried citrus peel, caramelised nutty notes and smooth, bitter-sweet finish. 16 per cent.

Antica Formula, Carpano Italy (Lea & Sandeman, £31.95 for 1l)

Wonderfully complex, luscious and rich, this has toffee, orange marmalade, tangerine peel and clove with spicy depths. 16.5 per cent.

Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry France (Berry Bros & Rudd, £5.95 for 37.5cl)

A fresh, subtle, dry white vermouth with a minty, herbal scent and clean, limey flavour. Half-bottles are useful here as you can start a fresh one more often. 17.5 per cent.

TIPPLE TIP fancy a brew?

Urban Sessions is a super-hip beer festival, with live music and 500-plus artisanal beers at the Cre8 Centre in east London. It's co-founded by the beer expert Melissa Cole, so expect a strong female contingent. Until 31 October; free entry

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