Let’s face it, Vermouth is an old school aperitif. Beloved of James Bond and Leonard Rossiter it sits neglected in the drinks cabinet of the past, along with Blue Bols and Tia Maria.
Now some things, need to remain in the past; Mateus Rose, Yugoslav Laski Riesling, Afghan Coats, Loon Pants and Babycham – but Vermouth does not, and despite our current obsession with everything Gin, it remains a staple of any hipster mixologist’s arsenal.
So what is it? Although uncertain, the name probably derives from the German Wermuth, meaning ‘wormwood’ or absinthe. Originally prepared by the Romans, who called it Absinthiatum, it should be made from a wine base, at least 75%, have an alcoholic strength of between 14.5% and 22% – from the addition of alcohol – and must be flavoured with Artemesias or another member of the species.
Most folk came across it through brands like Martini, Cinzano and Noilly Prat and it generally soaked up the entire production of Picpoul. Anyone who loves a Negroni should be familiar with it, but what many of you may not know is that it is great on its own, over ice, with a wedge of orange or even topped up with a splash of Prosecco and Campari as a Sbagliato.
After a sipping Vermut, in Spain, I wanted a remembrance of times past – even if I was wearing a woolly jumper and shivering in the garden – so imagine my surprise on failing to find a single decent bottle in my home town!
‘Oh no one drinks that stuff anymore’ I was reliably informed by a local independent merchant.
Well, like Johnny Hates Jazz, its time to turn back the clock! and reacquaint ourselves with this delicious, delightful, but sadly neglected drink!