Vermouth is an essential drink for any at-home bar. However, many novice mixologists don’t understand what this specialty liquor is or how to use it in a cocktail.
Vermouth is an aromatic fortified wine, meaning that distillers enhance the wine with a spirit such as brandy and add botanical flavors. It has a higher alcohol content and a more robust flavor than a typical wine.
By the late nineteenth century, this beverage was already a significant ingredient in classic cocktails such as a martini or Manhattan.
Over the decades, distilleries have developed various versions of this fortified wine. Depending on the variety, vermouth can work well for cooking, cocktails, or alone as an aperitif.
Understanding the virtues of these different varieties is essential if you want to use vermouth in homemade cocktails properly.
To help, we’ve put together a guide to some of the most common vermouth varieties.
Read on to learn more about the four types of vermouth and how to use them.
Blanc vermouth, also known as Bianco or white vermouth, is a sweet, floral style of vermouth.
Not quite the same as dry or sweet vermouth, blanc vermouth occupies a special middle ground that makes it a unique and versatile cocktail ingredient.
Decent blanc vermouth will add a gentle touch of sweetness to a cocktail without overpowering it with flavor.
Standard vermouth drinks can be made with blanc vermouths, such as a Negroni Bianco or a Manhattan Bianco.
You can also take advantage of blanc vermouth to make citrus-infused gin cocktails, such as a Garden Gin and Tonic, or sweet, balanced cocktails like a Hightail Out.
Dry vermouth is the iconic vermouth that you find in martinis and Manhattans.
Instead of sweet flavors, dry vermouth relies on spices and botanicals to create a distinctive dry-tasting profile.
If you had to pick one vermouth type to keep in your home bar, I recommend dry vermouth.
Dry vermouth will reliably enhance any mixed drink you make and can be used in a multitude of ways.
You can use it in any basic martini recipe, as well as a broad range of gin cocktails. In the event you have extra dry vermouth to use, this liquor is also quite prevalent in cooking recipes.
Sweet vermouth, also known as red vermouth, is the opposite of dry vermouth.
Sweet vermouth has a red wine base and a notably sweet flavor. This vermouth style is usually Italian and contains much more sugar than its dry counterpart.
Some people, myself included, enjoy making their Manhattans with sweet vermouth. But if that’s not your preference, there are plenty of other uses for this sugary cocktail ingredient.
For a simple mixed drink, I always appreciate Carpano sweet vermouth combined with club soda.
If you’re in the mood for something stronger, check out an Americano, which is equal parts sweet vermouth and Campari.
Rose vermouth is far less prevalent than the other vermouth varieties on this list, but you will impress your guests if you pull this liquor out during a dinner party.
As the name suggests, rose vermouth comes in a pink shade and is made with a combination of red and white wine as a base.
Although this drink has an appealing pink hue, it tastes floral, not sweet. You can serve rose vermouth with club soda over ice, or you can incorporate it into a festive cocktail.
If you want to experiment with a charming pink drink that isn’t sickeningly sweet, this is the vermouth for you.
Vermouth can feel intimidating to people who are new to making their cocktails, but mastering the basics of this beverage can make a world of difference in the quality of mixed drinks that they make.
Once I understood the qualities of these four common vermouth types, I was able to make a wide variety of handcrafted cocktails at home. I hope this guide helps you feel empowered to experiment with your mixologist skills.
For more cocktail tips, check out this article on brandy cocktails.
Did I leave out any of your favorite vermouth varieties or cocktail recipes? Let us know and we’ll be sure to check it out!
Check out our favorite dry vermouths to use in your cocktails!