It would be hard for a bartender to live in a world without vermouth.
Whether dry or sweet, this fortified wine is a core ingredient in many popular cocktails. You can’t have a Manhattan without vermouth, a Negroni without vermouth, or even a Martini without vermouth. In other words, the cocktail world would be a very sad place without vermouth.
Over the past few years, there’s been a vermouth revival of sorts, happening across the globe. Certain American vermouth producers have finessed their craft. The result … some seriously fascinating vermouths that remind us how this aperitif is just as enjoyable to sip as it is to dazzle up a cocktail recipe.
Let’s discover the 5 best American-made vermouths, shall we?
Little City Dry and Sweet Vermouths
Small, but mighty, Little City vermouth is up to some wizardry in the Big Apple. The entire business started in a kitchen in Harlem. Today, Little City vermouth remains at that intimate level of handcrafted. Will Clark, the man behind Little City, dove deep into experimenting, creating thought-provoking vermouths with a Cayuga grape base. This grape’s natural acidity gives these vermouths a noticeably more lively and vibrant character.
Little City makes both a dry and sweet vermouth that are both something out of an apothecary’s shop. The dry vermouth has 38 different botanicals, resulting in vermouth with a zesty freshness that will outdo the lemon twist on your dry martini. The sweet vermouth has an incredible 58 botanicals, inviting you to get creative or just mix it with some soda and call it a day!
When you think D.C., rather than think politics, start thinking about vermouth. Capitoline began as a project of two restaurant veterans that has evolved into an impressive lineup of white and red vermouths, as well as an eye-catching amaro. Both Capitoline’s dry and white vermouth carry an air of botanical bliss. But their rosé is one sweet vermouth not to ignore. It is graceful and aromatic, with the power to transform your usual Manhattan into something to talk about.
The Porcia and Bianca from Uncouth Vermouth
Uncouth Vermouth is an ode to Mother Earth, featuring only locally sourced and foraged ingredients (in this case, from New York State.) A woman-owned business, Uncouth’s founder Bianca Miraglia set out to create vermouths reminiscent of their history, while also showcasing the plethora of incredible ingredients all around us.
Currently, Uncouth offers two vermouths: Porcia, sweet vermouth, and Bianca, dry vermouth. The Porcia is a gorgeous illustration of autumn. It is sweetened with wild pears (of course, foraged by Miraglia herself!) and has enchanting herbal aromas. The Bianca is more delicate in flavor, but seductively floral.
Still, Miraglia releases her magical potion-like vermouths in limited quantities, meaning if you spot it somewhere, snag it like you’re at Walmart on Black Friday. Uncouth Vermouth will be a striking addition to your aperitif repertoire.
Oso de Oro Dry and Red Vermouth
T.W. Hollister & Co is behind some of the most charming vermouths around. The Oso de Oro first off have fantastic labels. They’re sleek and straightforward, making either bottle a nice decoration on your bar (or a gift to a friend!)
Of course, it is what’s in the bottle that matters most. The Oso de Oro red vermouth is warm and spice-driven with a caramel touch, making it the missing element in your Boulevardier cocktail recipe. On the other hand, the Oso de Oro dry vermouth is a dance of herbal and citrus notes. Drink it with soda, some simple and a citrus garnish, and you’ll be blissful in no time.
Lo-Fi Dry and Sweet Vermouth
Lo-Fi vermouths surprise you. Lo-Fi Aperitifs is a Napa, California-based company and their vermouths show it.
The Lo-Fi dry vermouth has a bigger body than most other dry vermouths, but it is still very refreshing, with aromas of citrus, chamomile, and elderflower. The sweet vermouth is a fascinating one. Don’t let its clear color fool you, this vermouth still has the same sweetness as any red vermouth. Its flavors are complex, candied, and almost tropical (yes, this indeed is where the coconut makes an appearance!)
An Honorable Mention – Forthave Spirits
Forthave Spirits may be better known for its compelling amari concoctions. But this spirits company also makes impressive aperitifs that aren’t technically vermouths that deserves an honorable mention.
Forthave’s red aperitivo is fragrant and floral, a spellbinding ingredient in your next Negroni. Also, don’t sleep on the Yellow Génépi either. This interpretation of the traditional Alpine génépi liqueur is herbal and fun, a friend to soda or any spritz-y drink.