The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 61 of 136

july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  61 For the uninitiated, vermouth is a historic, aromatic, lightly fortified wine traditionally coming out of European countries like Italy and France. Long enjoyed as an aperitif in those cultures, the commercial versions that have reached the U.S. in recent decades lost some of the original complexity and craft of the spirit—elements that are now returning in the growing number of quality brands on the market, encouraged by a cocktail industry invested in artisanal products of provenance. Legacy brands are return- ing to proprietary recipes for the herbs, roots and botanicals used to aromatize vermouths, which lends the category a big range of flavor profiles across spiced, herbaceous and fruit notes. "People are coming around to ver- mouth being something that's of quality and fun to work with," explains Andrew Amron, head bartender at Tall Paul's of Gainesville, FL, citing the explosion of craft vermouths as encouraging both staff and guests to explore the category. Adamczyk, long a proponent of drink- ing vermouth on the rocks, agrees: "If people say 'I don't like vermouth,' I say no, you just don't like cheap vermouth!" she says, chuckling. "I think a huge part of the craft cocktail industry is being able to do something new for people, but to make sure they're not over- whelmed by it." She makes vermouth approachable by creating cocktails that tie in its herbaceous, slightly bitter rich- ness with more common ingredients her guests already know—like ginger, lemon, and cider in her La Marena cocktail (see sidebar). Leading sweet vermouth brands like Carpano Antica Formula and Punt e Mes make it a relatively easy sell, too. "When you talk about Carpano's base flavors, we have the cherry notes, some herbal notes, a richness, and all of that sounds good," says Adamczyk of explaining vermouth to tipplers new to the category. With some guests, Amron, too, will take the time to explain the basics and history of vermouth. "I'll pour them a little sample of a dry vermouth, a Bianco and Carpano Antica Formula. Throw in an ice cube and taste them again, and then the next thing you know they're coming back for Carpano on the rocks with an orange twist," he says. "One of the other things great about vermouth and vermouth cocktails is the low ABV," adds Adamczyk. "People say they love boozy drinks, but they can only have two. They're asking what else can I try?" Amron agrees: "Vermouth has so many different botanicals and spices, you can use it to accentuate whatever else is going on in that cocktail," he says, adding that those qualities are also what make it a "fantastic spirit on its own. I serve it on the rocks with an orange twist and it's perfect at 16% alcohol." Vermouth also has wide ranging application in cocktails, which is why Lianne Adamczyk, Event and Cocktail Manager at Orlando, FL's Lil Indies, sees vermouth's popularity on the rise as an ingredient in cocktails—and a base spirit. Andrew Amron is the Head Bartender at Tall Paul's in Gainsville, FL. PHOTO: CARLOS AMOEDO PHOTO: JEREMIAH STANLEY

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