(Wait, what's SALEP? Find out here.)
What it is:
Vermouth is a fortified wine available in dry (white) or sweet (red).
It is made by steeping wine with an assortment of herbs, barks, roots, and fruits, and then adding brandy and other sweeteners, like sugar or honey.
How it’s used:
Vermouth is a popular aperitif in Europe, where it is enjoyed over ice.
In the US, it is more often used as a sweetener or flavor-enhancer in classic cocktails like martinis (dry vermouth), negronis (sweet vermouth), and manhattans (sweet vermouth).
Vermouth was first created in the mid-1700s in Northwest Italy as a way to mask inferior wines. Winemakers added spices like cardamom, allspice, marjoram, and wormwood (same ingredient used to make absinthe).
Sweet, red vermouths are usually associated with Italy and dry, white vermouths with France.
Vermouth gets its name from the German word for wormwood: “Vermud”. European vermouth-makers are required to use wormwood in all wines that are labeled as vermouth.
Vermouth is making a big comeback thanks to the recent craft cocktail craze. The New York Times published an article about American-made vermouths in February and Drink Portland included vermouth on its list of this year’s “5 Hot Cocktail Trends in Portland.”
More varieties of vermouths are popping up including amber and rosé vermouths as well as vermouths that don’t use wormwood at all (legal in the US, but not Europe).
Buy it here:
Pearl Specialty Market & Spirits has several dry and sweet vermouths to choose from, including vermouths made by Imbue Cellars, a local distillery.
Drink it here:
Clyde Common, Free House (on NE Fremont), Tasty n Sons (find vermouth on the aperitifs menu), and Nostrana (negronis!)
Salep Cocktail: Bronx (photo above)
2oz gin · .5oz dry vermouth · .5oz sweet vermouth · 1oz fresh orange juice
Combine all ingredients in shaker, shake, & strain into chilled glass. Garnish with orange twist.