The Great Vermouth Taste-Off: Inexpensive Reds
Vermouth is one of the most common ingredients in cocktails. It’s especially prevalent in my favorites: in Martinis and Manhattans, of course, but also in Negronis, Contessas, Maximilian Affairs, and Half Sinner-Half Saints. I use a fair amount of Vermouth. And there are a lot of Vermouths out there, all pretty similar in price. I’ve never put much thought before into what Vermouth I buy, choosing based on convenience or whim. It finally occurred to me to wonder how these Vermouths taste. What exactly am I putting in almost all of my cocktails? It’s time for a Vermouth taste-off.
I started with reds. Steph and I bought 5 bottles of sweet vermouth, all for under $10, and did a side-by-side tasting. Our biggest surprise was how different they were from one another:
- Martini (small bottle for $4.99)–a tangy flavor;
- Cinzano ($7.99)–definite hints of vanilla;
- Stock ($9.99)–simple and sweet;
- Gallo ($5.99)–even sweeter;
- Boissiere ($9.99)–complex and a bit bitter.
All of them were quite pleasant, in their own ways. Our favorite was the Boissiere.
Unlike the others, it was interesting enough to drink on its own, and it also adds nice depth to cocktails. I think it’s fair to say, though, that the right red Vermouth is a matter of taste, mood, and of what cocktail you’re making. I find myself, for instance, turning to Cinzano for my whiskey-based cocktails, because I like what the vanilla notes add to them. Once we’re through all of these bottles, though, I’m pretty sure we’ll stock the Boissiere.
Next up: inexpensive white Vermouths.