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

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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.

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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

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