Vermouth is an aromatised wine, which is to say that it’s a wine that has had a bunch of botanicals thrown at it to flavour it.
It can be difficult to improve upon the classics, but we like this bright and fresh Grapefruit Americano recipe from Darren Leaney at Capitano in Melbourne.
You, too, may be a part of this trend. Dry January, a challenge in which imbibers become teetotallers for a month, has gained momentum in the bartending community.
Just what is vermouth?
Vermouth is a aromatised wine, which is to say that it’s a wine that has had a bunch of botanicals thrown at it to flavour it, and a
little spirit to jack up the alcoholic strength of the wine (which helps to preserve it).
The Vermouth Carta29 rosso and bianco are both made using Vernaccia wine with a combination of local Sardinain botanicals such as elicriso (Helichrysum italicum). The rosso also contains foraged mirto (myrtle).
“I was going through a phase of trying to prepare ingredients for the bar that are better than anything available commercially. I attempted vermouth, it was ok, but not as good as commercially available products, Vernon [Chalker] suggested I should meet his French winemaker friend Gilles Lapalus, which I did.” Shaun Byrne tells of the genesis of his brand, Maidenii vermouth.
Easing the ills of mankind with booze and herbs has a long history. It goes back at least to the days of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the father of western medicine, who proffered a recipe for vermouth to cure jaundice, rheumatism and menstrual pain, among other things. He died in 370 BC but the idea of a herbal potion would kick on.
When Melbourne bar impresario, Vernon Chalker (Gin Palace, Bar Ampere) played boozy-matchmaker to bartender Shaun Byrne and respected winemaker Gilles Lapalus, the result was two beautiful new vermouths. We caught up with the gents to find out how they did it.
Melbourne bartender Shaun Byrne has been getting a taste for vermouth – and so he ought to, given he’s spent a good five years at Melbourne’s venerable ginstitution, Gin Palace. Here he has teamed up with French winemaker Gilles Lapalus to bring bars their very own Australian vermouths.
It’s probably one of the most common ingredients in classic cocktails, however vermouth is most likely the stuff that you end up cleaning of your bar mats! It hasn’t always been this way, with the Vermouth Cocktail considered quite a hit back in the late 1800s, but sadly today you’ll not often hear, “Barkeep – a wine glass of dry vermouth, chilled and garnished with lemon. Up.” Hopefully however after reading this month’s Trend piece you’ll be more inspired, confident and determined to offer up a vermouth focused cocktail – or tasting flight – to your bar’s tipplers.