There’s more to vermouth than the grape it’s made from. “The key botanicals also lead to specific profiles,” Francesco Lafranconi says. “Vanilla in sweet vermouth, the amount of wormwood (delivers a bitter taste), and citrus ingredients (Seville orange peel and yuzu, to name a few) could make a big difference. Some vermouths tend to be bold and opulent versus some to be more elegant and delicate with a sophisticated taste.”
Although it’s uncommon to drink vermouth on its own, if you’re looking to take your mixology up to the next level you may want to consider doing just that. Reading ingredient lists is one thing but you don’t fully understand how that translates to taste until it’s on your tongue. Once you have a thorough understanding of a vermouth’s botanical texture you are in a good place to start identifying classic cocktails that the vermouth could slot into.
“Many classics can be revisited by adding a particular style of vermouth,” Lafranconi went on. “The Last Word with extra dry vermouth could be very delicious, a whisky highball and margarita with Ambrato-style, a spritzer with Rosé-style, a tiki one like Dr. Funk or Singapore Sling could go well with M&R Rubino for instance, and Penicillin with Padro Dorado Spanish Vermouth.” Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite cocktails. You may miss the mark every once in a while but nothing beats discovering your new favorite flavor in a drink you conjured yourself.