Dry vermouth may be sweet vermouth’s less popular cousin but don’t rule out this integral ingredient in some of the world’s most classic cocktails.
That’s when it’s time to open your liquor cabinet (or better yet, your refrigerator) and pull out that dusty bottle of dry vermouth. Otherwise, you’ll need to run to the liquor store and buy a bottle ASAP.
Dry vermouth has various names around the world. They include French vermouth, vermouth bianco, vermouth blanc and white vermouth.
What Is Dry Vermouth?
Dry vermouth is a cocktail staple that spans the centuries.
Joseph Noilly, a French herbalist, created the original version in 1813 by adding a secret blend of herbs and spices to fortified white wine. And, while sweet vermouth debuted 27 years earlier in Italy, France’s version immediately stood on its own.
Noilly’s white vermouth is still produced in France today. However, its company, Noilly Prat & Co., was purchased by Italian competitor Martini & Rossi in 1971 which later merged with Bacardi in 1993.
It’s easy to confuse the two vermouth varietals (dry and sweet) until you sip them. Although they both contain white wine that’s been fortified with liquor and aromatized with herbs and spices, their colors and flavor profiles differ dramatically.
Unlike sweet vermouth which is caramel-colored, dry vermouth has a neutral color best described as clear or white. It’s also drier than sweet vermouth with a bright taste that’s enhanced by botanical ingredients like juniper, saffron, sage and wormwood.
You can use dry vermouth as a substitute for white wine when you make pan sauces at home.
Dry Vermouth Cocktails
Dry vermouth may make you think about little old ladies with a penchant for arsenic and old lace. It may also evoke images of international spies sipping cocktails that are shaken, not stirred. Or perhaps you rather drink than think.
While dry vermouth doesn’t get the star billing that liquors like bourbon, gin or vodka command, there’s no denying that it’s a key ingredient is some of the world’s most classic cocktail recipes. These are our favorite dry vermouth cocktails to craft at home:
5 of the Best Dry Dry Cocktails
The Old Pal is a boozier version of the Negroni and Boulevardier. It's also delicious. Craft one at home in just five minutes and find out if the Old Pal will be your new best friend.
Easy to make at home with just a few ingredients, this Gibson is a classic gin cocktail that's cool, classy and tastes like a dream. In other words, it's a winner.
Brooklyn isn't just the most populated borough in New York City. It's also a pre-prohibition cocktail that sips like a dream. When you follow our easy Brooklyn cocktail recipe, you'll forget about the other four boroughs before you get to the bottom of the glass.
The Bronx isn't just one of New York City's most culturally diverse boroughs. It's also a drink that blends gin with orange juice and two different vermouths. The result is a classic gin cocktail that's as easy to sip as it is to craft.
The Diplomat cocktail is ideal to imbibe during secret liaisons involving international negotiations and other clandestine affairs. It's also a tasty tipple that you can craft at home in just five minutes.
Dry Vermouth FAQs
Dry vermouth is aromatized fortified wine that derives its complex flavor from various herbs and spices
While some people sip dry vermouth as an aperitif, the best way to drink dry vermouth is in crafted cocktails.
The Martini is the most iconic dry vermouth cocktails. Other popular dry vermouth cocktails include the Brooklyn, Bronx, Diplomat, Gibson and Old Pal.
Dry vermouth slowly loses its flavor after the bottle is opened. Storing dry vermouth in the refrigerator extends its shelf life.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: May 20, 2023