From supporting role to main star in a host of drinks, vermouth's rise in the
past two years has been stratospheric. Say hello to the aperitif du jour
WORDS LAURA FOSTER PHOTOS AMI KANG
80 | squaremeal.co.uk
Vermouth has long been the
ower of the cocktail
world - an actress waiting in
the wings for her two lines.
Dropped into a glass and
icked away to
form the driest of martinis, or mixed into
a Negroni to be devoured by the gin and
Campari, she has merely been the support
act to other rock star spirits for just about
as long as most of us can remember.
All that is now changing, however, as
bars across the country start to shine a
spotlight on her. One place leading the way is
the newly opened Chiltern Firehouse, where
beverage manager Luis Simoes has created
an exquisite list of ve 'aperitivos'. Using
over ice with
just the tiniest
avour through the addition
of some grapefruit peel or a twist of lemon.
One of the best on the list is made with
Cinzano Bianco - yes, really - which Simoes
has masterfully married with cucumber and
a scattering of cracked black pepper. The
drink is light, bright and incredibly qua able.
'We wanted to serve a selection of lightly
embellished vermouths before dinner,'
Simoes explained to me, 'with the idea
being that you would easily be able to have
two or three drinks before eating.'
This practice of 'embellishing' vermouths
isn't new - it merely fell out of fashion
about 50 years ago - but as with other
trends, such as well-groomed facial hair,
it's back with a vengeance. And if it's good
enough for the Adrià brothers, who opened
their new vermouth bar Bodega 1900 in
Barcelona last autumn, then it's certainly
good enough for me.
Before you get started, a few words on
working with vermouth. Remember it is an
aromatised wine: once opened, it oxidises -
albeit more slowly than your normal bottle
of Pinot. Delay this problem by keeping it in
the fridge, and try not to keep the bottle for
longer than a few weeks.
Never shake a cocktail containing wine,
because it will make your drink look cloudy.
Sorry, Mr Bond, but your martini, however
much vermouth is in it, should be stirred.
When it comes to which brands to use,
there are many new ones popping up at
the moment, but I have focused on three
of the biggest in these recipes. That's not
to say that some of the new additions
aren't worthy of research. Newcomer
Blackdown distillery in Sussex is making
a delicious Bianco that works well stirred
and served over ice with orange peel.
So, go forth and explore! With so many
di erent vermouths on o er - and most
being half the price of a bottle of spirit -
there is something for everyone.
Vermouth has been the support act to
other rock star spirits for a long time
is on fi re