Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Magic Vermouth

It’s been awhile since I reviewed anything, so here’s one for ye. Today’s subject is a vermouth.

Encyclopedia Britannica describes vermouth thusly:

Vermouth, A wine-based fortified drink flavoured with aromatic herbs. The name derives from the German Vermut, or “wormwood”, a bitter herb and traditional ingredient of vermouth and absinthe. As many as 40 different herbs and flavourings may be used in vermouth, including juniper, cloves, quinine, orange peel, nutmeg, and coriander; the vermouths of various producers are flavoured according to closely guarded recipes. There are two styles of vermouth: the so-called French, or dry style, which is white, and the Italian, or sweet style, which is darker in colour. Both styles, however, are made in both countries, as well as ... To Continue reading activate your no-risk Free Trial to Britannica Online.” Hail Britannica! Maybe I should have consulted Wikipedia instead.

I can think of several cocktail recipes that call for vermouth, but if they have more than two ingredients, I can’t be bothered. There are two drinks I make with vermouth. One is a Manhattan, to be served to the ladies in the room. The other is of course the venerable martini. Not a "vodka martini", or any number of vodka infused drinks that might pass as a martini in less refined places. Not to this old schooler - a martini must have gin in it. Gin and dry vermouth. Or just the gin, thank you, with the quick obeisance of a bottle of vermouth, held out thoughtfully for a moment before being put away again.

However, Imbue, a locally (Oregon) produced vermouth describing itself as "bittersweet" was poured out to me just the other day by my friend Dr. Grimme. Yes, that’s really his name, and he is a doctor. He pronounces it “Grimmy” of course, but that doesn’t stop us from referring to him in low and serious tones when he’s not around. But I digress, Dr. Grimme first mixed for me what’s referred to as an upside down or inverted martini. This is where the amounts of gin and vermouth respectively are reversed. Heresy! I was willing to try it though, as the doctor had proven himself on more than one occasion to be a connoisseur of fine potions.

And it was indeed a very nice drink - but how would the vermouth fare when not paired with the top shelf gin in my glass? The good doctor indulged me with a shot of the vermouth by itself, and I was very impressed by its complexity and flavor. It seemed an equal to a fine gin, and the reason for it not being relegated to a supporting role became clear.

I was happy to accept the bottle he gave me to take home for further testing - where I immediately decided to see if it would play nice as second fiddle to a lesser gin. As those who spoke to me later that evening can attest, the experiment turned out wonderfully! So much so that another rare journey to the liquor store seems to be in order, now that the gin has run out. Well, I suppose there is some vodka in the freezer…


Reese Laundry said...

Nice! I hope you use nothing but the best gin - Bombay Sapphire. Enjoy your vermouth!

Trey said...

I have to dissent. Vodka martini's are good enough for both Bond and myself. ;)

Joe G Kushner said...

I love booze stories. In a role playing game, they have a ton of potential use ranging from gathering the very unique materials used to make them to finding the original receipies that are clan secrets to having enough land to cultivate the various plants necessary to produce proper aging. Tons of potential I sayz.

Sean Robson said...

a martini must have gin in it

Hell, yeah. Preferably Bombay Sapphire.

The Happy Whisk said...

I don't drink but this is very interesting. I had no idea all those herbs went into vermouth. Thanks for the information. Very fun.

Unknown said...

I prefer my hard liquor (gin, bourbon, tequila, Scotch, rakia, etc.) straight, though a well made martini or Margaretta can be quite good.

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