Top 4 Most Overlooked Cocktail Ingredients (Part 1/4)
BEYOND THE BASE
For most home bartenders, the base liquor is the star of a cocktail. And it should be. The vodka makes or breaks your Martini, using a top shelf Rye elevates an Old Fashioned and the type of tequila defines the Margarita. It’s a mistake to underestimate the role the second and third ingredients play in elevating your drinks to memorable flavor experiences.
SURPRISE AND DELIGHT
Over this series of blog posts, let’s explore four of the most overlooked ingredients that will become the hidden gems in your cocktail creations. As a nice side effect, you will impress your friends with fascinating flavors from bottles they might have never seen before.
Vermouth is fortified wine, which is a nice way of saying ‘wine with added booze, usually brandy’. It then is aromatized with various botanicals.
As a rule of thumb, if you create a cocktail, add Vermouth to give it body and flavor, but also to soften the sometimes harsh base spirit. It is totally up to your taste how much Vermouth you add, definitely experiment here and don’t hesitate to make it the star in your drinks.
Vermouth is one of the better known and more common ingredients, thanks to two of the most ordered and most popular cocktails, the Manhattan (sweet red Vermouth) and the Martini (dry Vermouth).
These are also the most common types of Vermouths in North America, whereas in Europe sweet white Vermouth is also very common, mostly enjoyed on the Rocks as an Aperitif.
On one of our recent trips to Europe we got our hands on a bottle of ‘Riserva Speciale Rubino’ from Martini and Rossi, which has the deepest red color and one of the most complex and fruitiest flavors we have tasted in a Vermouth. Definitely try it if your liquor store carries it.
The Guys think:
- ‘Martini and Rossi’ is the standard for sweet Vermouth, a very reliable and affordable staple, with ‘Dolin’ or ‘Noilly Prat’ often used as a step up. Our go to is ‘Punt es Mes’, a Vermouth with a touch of bitter and orange flavors. We feel it makes almost every drink better.
- Cocchi Americano is technically is not a Vermouth, but labeled as an ‘Aperitif Wine’. Use it like a white sweet Vermouth, for example in a White Negroni or in any light colored cocktail experiment that went too strong. The Cocchi is going to fix it.
1 Part High West American Bourbon
½ Part Riserva Speciale Rubino
2-3 Golden Bitters
1 Part St Georges Gin
1 Part Luxardo Bitter Bianco
1 Part Dolin Dry Vermouth