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What is Vermouth?

What is Vermouth?

If you prefer fortified wine over all other alcoholic beverages, then you probably know what is vermouth and what all can it be used for. The following article sinks deeper beneath the surface to dig out all that you need to know about this wonderful liquor.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
The name Vermouth comes from the German word Wermut, which means wormwood. It is basically made the same way as any other wine, from fermented grape juice. The only difference being that after the wine is ready, a distilled spirit or beverage, usually brandy, is also added to it.


This aromatic liquor is made from wine and a distilled spirit, added with a number of herbs and spices imparting a typical flavor, which is the primary characteristic of a vermouth. The flavoring spices and herbs that are used for making it include cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, and marjoram. It can be sweetened or unsweetened. The latter is termed as dry vermouth.

There is a strong relationship between wormwood and vermouth. The latter's recipe was invented by an Italian distiller named Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786. The inspiration for this recipe was similar to a German wine which was flavored by wormwood. It is also a significant flavoring substance in the distilling process of absinthe.


Besides being an important ingredient in most cocktails, it is also a good substitute for white wine in cooking. When stirring up a cocktail, it plays the role of a moderating agent, by imparting a herbal flavor and reducing the volume percentage of alcohol in the resultant drink. Martini is, perhaps, the most popular cocktail that uses vermouth as a moderating and flavoring agent. You can switch between gin and vodka but vermouth is a must in any martini. Nothing can substitute it.


Besides martini, the most popular cocktails that contain this liquor are as follows:-
  • Algonquin
  • Nice Communist
  • Bamboo
  • Satan's Whiskers
  • Blood and Sand Cocktail
  • Rob Roy
  • Bronx
  • Pall Mall
  • Crystal Bronx
  • Octopus' Garden
  • Chocolate Soldier
  • Mephisto
  • Corpse Reviver #1
  • Negroni
  • Gibson
  • Manhattan
  • Income Tax Cocktail
  • Martinez
  • Ingrid
  • Man O' War
  • El Presidente
There are three distinct styles of vermouth that you can bring home, depending upon how sweet or dry you like your liquor. These are extra dry, bianco or white, and sweet or red. The last variant is the most versatile of the three, as it can be served with meals and is also fit for drinking straight up, as well as being mixed in cocktails. The dry and white styles are mostly used for stirring up cocktails.

So, try out a couple of party cocktail recipes this weekend with this aromatic liquor.