BBC Good Food Magazine
Word of vermouth
A classic bronx cocktail from drinks expert Miriam Nice offers a taste of the US, plus we get advice on choosing and enjoying vermouth from the Black Swan’s James Banks
ALL ABOUT VERMOUTH
Beer and wine expert James Banks explains all you need to know about vermouth
1 WHAT IS VERMOUTH?
A fortified wine with the addition of a neutral alcohol (such as brandy), herbs and bitter botanicals. It’s usually dry or sweet, and was traditionally a way of using up lower-quality grapes.
2 IS SWEET VERMOUTH ALWAYS RED? IS DRY ALWAYS WHITE?
Generally, dry vermouth is white, more herbaceous and savoury. Sweet vermouth is usually red, more robust and sweet. But, blanc vermouth is a semi-sweet option that’s not as sugary as a sweet vermouth, with a light flavour and rich undertones. There’s also vermouth made with red and white grapes for a rosé style.
3 CAN YOU MAKE IT YOURSELF?
You can make your own vermouth using wine, sugar, a neutral spirit, herbs and aromatics. At Black Swan and Roots, we make our own for cocktails and our bottled range using produce from our garden.
4 HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A GOOD ONE?
First, consider what you’ll be drinking. If you like boozy, dark cocktails, red vermouth is for you. If you love lighter drinks like martinis, go for white.
5 WHAT’S AN UNEXPECTED COCKTAIL TO MAKE WITH VERMOUTH?
If you love negronis, use white vermouth instead of red for a lighter version. We’re launching the damson metropolitan cocktail in our bottled range – it’s a take on a negroni that replaces the gin with cognac, and is made with our red vermouth and a hogweed tincture that adds a wonderful orange-cardamom flavour.
James Banks heads the drinks offering at his brother Tommy’s restaurants, Black Swan and Roots. He also looks after their range of bottled cocktails, available for delivery at tommybanks.co.uk. @madeinoldstead