The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2013

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Page 124 of 152

CATEGORY REPORT The Truth about Vermouth NO LONGER JUST FOR MARTINIS, THIS HISTORIC WINE-BASED APÉRITIF IS COMING BACK STRONG by Richard Carleton Hacker PHOTO: RICHARD CARLETON HACKER W hen vermouth is mentioned, most mixologists—and practically all of their customers—think of it as an ingredient in a Martini. Or as two of the less potent ingredients in a Manhattan. But vermouth is more multi-dimensional than that. Under the 13th-century vaulted stone ceilings of the Cellier et Morel restaurant in Montpellier, France, they serve Noilly Prat Original Dry over ice, with a few drops from a lemon slice. In Pessione, Italy, the home of Martini (formerly Martini & Rossi), the Martini Royale was born just last year: equal parts Martini Bianco Vermouth and Prosecco poured into an ice-filled glass with a fresh lime wedge and garnished with a sprig of mint. And of course, Cinzano Rosso has been around since 1786, and has been joined by Cinzano Extra Dry and Cinzano Bianco as cocktail ingredients. "Secret" Recipes, Varied Vermouths Most vermouths have "secret" family recipes—a bit off-putting to mixologists who like to know what they're pouring. In reality, most vermouths are made from wines infused or macerated with botanicals, then fortified with brandy and aged. This is a generality. Noilly Prat Original Dry, for example, which created the dry vermouth category in 1813, is made by aging and infusing a sweet white wine plus additional wines from regional varieties One of the newest vermouth cocktails is the Martini Royale, intro- Picpoul and Clairette Blanche. Martini, on the other hand, undergoes a duced in Pessione, Italy last year. dramatically different process that involves the maceration of herbs in a hydroalcoholic solution, resulting in a concentrated liquid that is pot-distilled and then aged in stainless steel tanks. Although most vermouths use white wine as their base, Carpano Antica Formula starts out with red wine, which, in a process based upon Antonio Benedetto Carpano's original 1786 recipe, becomes one of the richest vermouths you can pour into a Manhattan. Dubonnet French Vermouth makes a Rouge and a Blanc, which Queen Elizabeth II enjoys in her gin. Another French brand, Dolin, Carpano Antica Formula is based upon the original 1876 recipe. 124  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2013 TP1213_104-148.indd 124 11/23/13 8:37 PM

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