Vermouth is technically an “aromatized fortified wine.”

Vermouth is technically an “aromatized fortified wine.”

Ask the average American, “When was the last time you sipped on a neat glass of vermouth?” and you’ll probably get a blank stare. People do that?! Well, they do in northern Italy and southern France. Here on the West Coast, vermouth is meant for martinis and Manhattans – if it’s meant for anything at all.

While vermouth has largely fallen out of fashion, the fortified wine is seeing a bit of a revival as many bars, bartenders, and drinkers are lured back to the era of classic cocktail recipes. As vermouth makes its return, many people are wondering what exactly is the difference between sweet and dry vermouth? And, what is vermouth in the first place?

Maraschino Cherry Syrup

Maraschino Cherry Syrup

All About Vermouth

Vermouth is technically an “aromatized fortified wine.” Essentially, producers take white wine, bump up the ABV to at least 16%, and then start adding their own proprietary (and oftentimes secret) recipe of herbs and botanicals. Every producer’s vermouth is original and unique, containing exotic ingredients like holly thistle, gentian, and wormwood flower.

Vermouth, which finds its origins in 18th century Northern Italy, is generally classified as ‘sweet’ or ‘dry.’ Though it was originally created for medicinal purposes – as many spirits were – it is now used in a number of famous drink recipes.

We’ve included below some of our favorite drink recipes that call for sweet and/or dry vermouth. Some of these recipes, such as the Manhattan, can use equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. A drink recipe with a 50/50 mixture is known as ‘perfect.’ So, a 1:1, sweet vermouth : dry vermouth Manhattan would be called a ‘Perfect Manhattan.’

Cocktail Recipes That Use Sweet Vermouth

Sweet vermouth is also known as ‘red’ or ‘Italian’ vermouth (as opposed to the ‘white’ and ‘dry’ vermouths of southern France). While it can be enjoyed alone, it’s best in the following cocktail recipes:

Drink Recipes That Use Dry Vermouth

Dry vermouth has a lighter body and extra bitterness, and is primarily used in the martini and its many variations. While every producer has a unique house recipe, the bitterness of dry vermouth is usually obtained from nutmeg and bitter orange peel.

Have your own favorite drink recipe that uses either sweet or dry vermouth? Share your cocktail recipes with us on the Amoretti Facebook page.

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