Quick Sips: Dry Vermouths vary by distiller, but some common tastes, such as the signature wormwood, can be found in most. Orange peels, sweet caramel, bitterness, forest herbs, and a little bit of saline can be tasted in most. French, dry vermouths are marked by an added bitterness.
The American palate historically veered away from the florals leading to the creation of “extra dry,” cleaner versions of dry vermouth for the States.
Applications: Like many European alcohols, Sweet Vermouth was originally believed to be medicinal. Dry Vermouth was drank as an aperitif in France for centuries. The Golden Age of cocktails popularized the bitter stateside due to drinks like the Manhattan and the Martini.
NOTE: Vermouth should always be refrigerated when not in use.
Backstory: Dry (or white) Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine, originally created in 18th century Italy. Producers start with the juice from neutral or unfermented grapes, typically Clairette blanche, Piquepoul, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Catarratto and Trebbiano. A second, fortifying alcohol is added to the mix. Then, the liquids are placed in barrels already containing herbs and spices such as wormwood, cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, marjoram, chamomile, coriander, juniper, hyssop, and ginger. The end product generally clocks in between 15 and 17 percent ABV.