Vermouth is a well-known aperitif that many wine lovers in France or Italy enjoy before dinner. With its mix of sweet, bitter, and spicy notes, it’s an exciting drink that is delicious pure as well as an ingredient in a cocktail. In this article, we will talk about the best Vermouth cocktails and how to make them:

What Is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine from Europe. Vintners in France, Italy, and other countries make it from wine, enrich it with brandy, and enhance its flavor with different spices and herbs. Vermouth can be red or white and range from dry to sweet. In any case, it has bitter and spicy notes.

What Does Vermouth Add to Cocktails?

Adding Vermouth to a cocktail can serve multiple purposes:

  • If a strong spirit like vodka or whiskey is the cocktail’s base, Vermouth can lower the alcohol content.
  • Vermouth adds herbal, spicy, and earthy aromas to the mix.
  • It also contributes sweet notes that help balance out bitter flavors in a cocktail. Logically, sweet Vermouth styles add more sweetness than dry versions.

What Is a Cocktail?

A cocktail is a mix of at least two liquid ingredients. Typically, it contains alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic mixers such as juices, soda, or lemonades. It’s also common to add sliced fruit or herbs to enhance the flavor.

Wine is a relatively unusual ingredient for cocktails as many wines are too good to dilute them with other ingredients. However, you can find many great recipes for red wine cocktails as well as white wine cocktails.

Vermouth cocktails are more common, although they technically are wine cocktails, too. Actually, some of the most famous cocktails call for Vermouth as an ingredient. And rightly so, because the fortified and aromatized wine adds a complex set of flavors to any mixed drink.

How to Make Great Vermouth Cocktails

Making delicious Vermouth cocktails requires some preparation:

  • First of all, you need the right ingredients. That goes for the optimal style of Vermouth, good spirits and mixers, and fruits.
  • Second, you need some tools to process the ingredients and mix the drink.
  • Third, you should serve Vermouth cocktails in proper glassware.

The Right Ingredients for Cocktails

The best ingredients are the foundation for excellent Vermouth cocktail recipes. When you go shopping for them, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • A good Vermouth is crucial for a good cocktail. Luckily, most styles from France and Italy have at least a decent quality. Check out the recommendations below.
  • When looking for spirits, go for medium-quality products. Cheap spirits are often of poor quality, and many rather give you a headache than contribute pleasant aromas to a cocktail. On the other hand, high-quality drinks are too precious to mix into cocktails. Better enjoy them pure.
  • If your recipe calls for fruits, buy fresh ones. Also, use fresh fruit to press your juices instead of buying industrial-made products.
  • The same is true for ingredients like simple syrup. It’s pretty easy to make them yourself, so there is no need to spend money on them.
  • Finally, make your ice from filtered spring water. It’s way better than the ice bags you get at the supermarket or the gas station.

Which Is the Best Vermouth for Cocktails?

When buying Vermouth, make sure you get the right style. Sweet versions are very different from dry versions. While you can alter some Vermouth cocktail recipes by replacing one type with the other, you might mess up other mixtures by confusing them.

Here are some Vermouth styles that are fantastic for making Vermouth cocktails:

Alessio Vermouth Bianco

  • type: white, fortified, sweet
  • origin: Italy, Piedmont
  • alcohol: 18.0%

Alessio Vermouth Chinato

  • type: red, fortified, sweet
  • origin: Italy, Piedmont
  • alcohol: 16.5%

Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth

  • type: white, fortified, sweet
  • origin: Italy, Lombardy
  • alcohol: 16.5%

Carpano Bianco Vermouth

  • type: white, fortified, dry
  • origin: Italy, Lombardy
  • alcohol: 14.9%

The Right Tools to Make Vermouth Wine Cocktails

For many cocktails, you only need a glass and a stirring spoon. But in other cases, you need more equipment. The following tools should be present in every home bar:

  • Shaker with a Lid: A shaker with a leak-proof lid is an essential tool for making cocktails. Models from stainless steel are just perfect.
  • Measuring Cups: The correct ratios of ingredients are essential when mixing Vermouth cocktails. You should own at least one that allows you to measure servings as small as half a liquid ounce.
  • Mesh Strainer: Another essential tool is a mesh strainer. You need it to remove ice or other solids from mixes before serving them. Make sure it’s big enough to cover glasses with wide openings such as Coupe and wine glasses.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: You require a sharp knife and an easy-to-clean cutting board for slicing fruit.

The Right Glasses for Serving Vermouth Cocktails

The right glassware is also crucial because it can significantly affect your drinking experience regarding flavors as well as looks. While classical wine glasses work for some Vermouth cocktails, others require special vessels. The following types of cocktail glasses are the most common:

  • Rocks Glass: Stemless rock glasses are the proper vessels for whiskey, vodka, and many cocktails containing these ingredients. You can also use them for water or juices, though.
  • Long Drink Glass: This tall glass has no stem either. It has a smaller base than the rock glass, and it’s the right glass for cocktails that come in bigger servings.
  • Martini Glass: This might be the most popular cocktail glass. With its cone-shaped bowl and short stem, it holds only small servings but looks very elegant.
  • Coupe Glass: The Coupe glass looks similar to the Martini glass but has a rounded bowl. Also, its stem is shorter, making the glass more stable.
  • Pitcher: A pitcher is perfect for preparing multiple servings of a cocktail. It holds 1.5 to 2 liters which is enough to serve a group of up to ten people. For Vermouth cocktails, you might not need a pitcher, but it’s useful when making white wine cocktails for summer parties.

Vermouth Spritz

A great Vermouth cocktail for summer days is the Vermouth Spritz. It’s a Vermouth-only cocktail, or in other words, a diluted version of the fortified wine with refreshing bubbles. Depending on your preferences, you can easily adjust its strength by using more soda (or less Vermouth). By replacing the sweet Vermouth with a dry version, you can also alter its flavor to match your taste.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz sweet Vermouth
  • 4 oz soda water
  • ice cubes
  • 1 orange slice

Instructions

To serve the Vermouth Spritz, you can use a long drink glass. Alternatively, a red wine glass is a more elegant-looking alternative. These are the steps to prepare the cocktail:

  1. Fill ice cubes into the glass.
  2. Add the Vermouth and top it with soda.
  3. Stir the mix properly.
  4. Garnish the glass with the orange slice.

Gin Martini

The Martini is a classic and probably the most famous of all Vermouth cocktails. One reason for this fame is its recurring appearance in Hollywood: It is the favorite drink of her majesty’s spy James Bond. Besides, it is also an easy-to-prepare cocktail, even for inexperienced bartenders.

The original recipe calls for dry Vermouth. But in case you have a sweet tooth, you can make your Gin Martini with sweet Vermouth, too. You might need to experiment a bit to find the perfect ratios that match your taste, though.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ oz Gin
  • 1 oz dry Vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • ice cubes
  • 1-3 olives for decoration
    Vermouth Cocktail made from Gin and Vermouth

    Gin Martini

    Instructions

    It goes without saying that a Gin Martini should come in a Martini glass. For the optimal drinking experience, chill it in the fridge in advance. Here is how to prepare this great Vermouth and gin cocktail:

    1. Fill the ice cubes into a mixing glass.
    2. Add the gin and the Vermouth. You can vary the amount of Vermouth to match your taste.
    3. Stir the mix properly.
    4. Stain it into the chilled glass.
    5. Add a dash of orange bitters
    6. Finally, add the olives according to your preferences (preferably with a toothpick).

    Americano

    Vermouth and Campari cocktails are very popular, and you can find numerous versions. The Americano is one of the oldest recipes. It was served first in 1860 in the Italian city of Milano. And it quickly became popular among American tourists, resulting in its current name. Like the Gin Martini, the Americano made it into the James Bond series: The British agent ordered one in “Casino Royale”. One of the reasons for the popularity of this Vermouth cocktail is the fascinating combination of bitter and sweet aromas it offers. On top of that, the drink provides a refreshing fizz from soda water.

    Ingredients

    • 1 ½ oz Campari
    • 1 ½ oz sweet Vermouth
    • soda water
    • ice cubes
    • orange zest for decoration

    Instructions

    For the Americano cocktail, you need a tall long drink glass. Here are the single steps of this Vermouth cocktail recipe:
    1. Fill the ice cubes into the long drink glass.
    2. Add the Campari and the Vermouth.
    3. Top the mixture with soda water
    4. Carefully stir for about 30 seconds.
    5. Garnish the glass with the orange zest.

    Negroni

    Another staple in every bar is the Negroni which belongs to the Vermouth and Campari cocktails category, too. It’s said to be invented in Italy in the early 1900s as a variation of the Americano (see above). And it actually differs in only one ingredient: Instead of soda water, the Negroni contains gin.

    The beautiful thing about the Negroni cocktail is that you can vary its taste simply by using another type of Vermouth. For instance, if you are not a fan of sweet cocktails, use a dry Vermouth instead of a sweet style.

    Ingredients

    • 1 oz Gin
    • 1 oz sweet Vermouth
    • 1 oz Campari
    • ice cubes
    • orange zest for decoration

    Instructions

    The best vessel for a Negroni cocktail is a rocks glass. Get a mixing glass and follow these steps to prepare this great Vermouth and gin cocktail:

    1. Fill the ice cubes into a mixing glass.
    2. Add the gin, the Campari, and the Vermouth.
    3. Stir the mix until it’s well-chilled
    4. Fill some ice cubes into the rocks glass.
    5. Strain the mixture into the glass
    6. Decorate the glass with the orange zest.

    The Boulevardier

    There is one more great variation of the Americano: The Boulevardier. This Campari and Vermouth cocktail is a little bit younger than the Negroni. It was created in Paris in the 1920s by a magazine publisher. Its name derives from her magazine for expats living in France by the time.

    The Boulevardier is made from Vermouth and Campari with whiskey as the third ingredient (and the replacement for soda water). Logically, it is a bit stronger than the Americano and perceivably spicier than the Negroni. By using rye whiskey instead of Bourbon, you can make it even spicier.

    Ingredients

    • 1 oz Bourbon whiskey
    • 1 oz sweet Vermouth
    • 1 oz Campari
    • ice cubes
    • orange zest for decoration

    Instructions

    Pick a rocks glass to enjoy the Boulevardier cocktail. To prepare it, you also need a mixing glass. Here is how to do it:

    1. Fill ice cubes into the mixing glass.
    2. Add all of the ingredients.
    3. Stir the mix properly. When it’s well-chilled, you are good to go.
    4. Fill ice cubes into the rocks glass.
    5. Strain the cocktail into the glass.
    6. Decorate it with the orange peel.

    Manhattan

    You probably already know the Manhattan. It belongs to the world’s most popular mix drinks. As the name suggests, it comes from Manhattan, New York, and was invented around 1880.

    The Manhattan cocktail is a versatile drink that combines bitter, sweet, spicy, and sour notes. And even better, it’s one of the Vermouth cocktail recipes that you can easily alter to match your taste. Replace the rye whiskey with Bourbon to make it less spicy, add more orange bitters for more acidity, or increase the Vermouth content for sweetness.

    Vermouth and Whiskey Cocktail

    One of the Most Famous Vermouth Cocktails: The Manhattan

    Ingredients

    • 1 oz sweet Vermouth
    • 2 oz Rye whiskey
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 1 dash orange bitters
    • ice cubes
    • 1 cherry for decoration
    • lemon peel for decoration

    Instructions

    Serve the Manhattan cocktail in a Martini glass or a Coupe glass. Chill it upfront. You need a mixing glass and a stirring spoon to prepare the drink. Follow these steps:

    1. Fill the ice into the mixing glass.
    2. Add the Vermouth, the whiskey, and the bitters.
    3. Stir the mixture until it’s chilled.
    4. Strain it into the Martini glass.
    5. Add the cherry and the lemon peel as decoration.

    Perfect Manhattan

    If you think the Manhattan is a good cocktail, you will probably like the enhanced version of this Vermouth and whiskey cocktail: the Perfect Manhattan. It is less well-known than the original but even better in taste.

    The reason is the Vermouth split: Instead of using only the sweet version, you use half of a sweet and half of a dry style. The dry Vermouth cuts through the bold whiskey and creates a perfect balance. It’s so great that you don’t even need the orange bitters. However, you should replace the rye whiskey with Bourbon. Otherwise, it might overwhelm the other ingredients.

    Ingredients

    • ½ oz dry Vermouth
    • ½ oz sweet Vermouth
    • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • ice cubes
    • 1 cherry for decoration

    Instructions

    Like many other Vermouth cocktails, you should serve the Perfect Manhattan in a Martini glass. You need a mixing glass to prepare the drink. This is how to do it:

    1. Fill the mixing glass with ice cubes.
    2. Add the Vermouth, the whiskey, and the bitters.
    3. Stir the mixt until it is well-chilled.
    4. Strain it into the Martini glass.
    5. Add the cherry as decoration.

    El Capitán

    If you like brandy, there is one Vermouth cocktail for you: El Capitán. It comes from Peru, where army captains created the Vermouth and brandy cocktail in the 1920s.

    Its secret ingredient is Pisco, a strong spirit made from fermented grape juice. Most commonly, manufacturers use Moscatel grapes. The high-quality brandy has been known in Peru for more than 400 years. Today, it is regulated by law and may be produced in only five official Pisco appellations.

    Ingredients

    • 2 oz Pisco
    • 1 oz sweet Vermouth
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • ice cubes
    • 1 cherry for decoration

    Instructions

    When serving the El Capitán cocktail, you should pick a small white wine glass. A Coupe or Martini glass is acceptable, too. Either way, chill the glass in the fridge before preparing the drink. Here is how to make this Vermouth and brandy cocktail:

    1. Fill the mixing glass with ice.
    2. Add the other ingredients (except the cherry).
    3. Stir the drink with a spoon.
    4. When it’s chilled, strain it into the wine glass.
    5. Stir the mixt until it is well-chilled.
    6. Garnish the glass with the cherry.

    The Audrey

    The Audrey is one of the less famous Vermouth cocktails. A bartender created it in the Italian town of Bologna, and the drink carries her name.

    A Vermouth and Prosecco cocktail might not sound that great at first glance. But actually, it’s a delicious beverage combining sweet and bitter Vermouth notes with Prosecco’s dry fizziness.

    Ingredients

    • 2 ½ oz Prosecco
    • 1 ½ oz red Vermouth
    • 1 oz orange juice
    • brown sugar
    • crushed ice
    • 1 orange slice

    Instructions

    The Audrey cocktail goes in a rocks glass. You don’t need a mixing glass, but a stirring spoon and a small plate to prepare it. Follow these steps:

    1. Spread the brown sugar on a plate.
    2. Run the orange slice around the rim of the rock glass.
    3. Dip the glass upside down into the sugar. Make sure the rim is completely coated.
    4. Fill ice into the glass.
    5. Add the Vermouth and the orange juice.
    6. Stir carefully.
    7. Top the mix with Prosecco.
    8. Garnish the glass with the orange slice.

    Final Words

    Many cocktail lovers have probably had a Vermouth-based cocktail before without knowing that it was made with the aromatized fortified wine. With the recipes from this article, you can now offer numerous Vermouth cocktails to your loved ones. And you know a bit of trivia to tell while preparing them. Cheers!