Why Vermouth Is the Undercover Superhero of Spirits

Emily Carpenter/Thrillist
Emily Carpenter/Thrillist

After hosting a dinner party featuring a few Martinis, you’ve probably looked into your fridge and asked yourself, “What the heck do I do with the rest of this giant bottle of dry vermouth?” Inevitably, the solution is to force Martinis on whoever else walks through your door. But there are more ways to use up that remaining liter of aromatized wine.

Dry vermouth works beautifully in a number of other cocktails and can even come in handy when you’re running low on ingredients like white wine. So the next time you find yourself with an oversized bottle of dry vermouth, here are several ways to put it to good use

But whatever you do, be sure to store your vermouth in the refrigerator. No one likes soured vermouth.

Just Drink It

The Italians, Spanish, and French often drink vermouth as an aperitif on the rocks with a lemon twist (if it’s white vermouth) or an orange twist (if it’s red vermouth). Sometimes a splash of soda or sparkling wine is added to make a lightly boozy spritz.

Despite what you may think, vermouth doesn’t need to be mixed with anything. Herbaceous and infused with a number of botanicals, there’s no reason to mess with its already delicious flavors. Whether you prefer it up or poured over a big ice cube for just a touch of dilution, all vermouth requires is a twist of lemon.

Make It a Spritz

If you have a soft spot for white wine spritzers, then here’s a pro tip: A spritzer is equally delicious when spiked with dry vermouth. The only thing to adjust is the ratio; instead of a 50-50 blend, mix two ounces of dry vermouth with four ounces of soda. You can also muddle strawberries into the drink or squeeze in a slice of orange or grapefruit to give it a fruity boost.

Add a Touch of Tonic

There’s no reason gin should have all the fun with tonic. To soften the drink’s ABV, replace the gin with vermouth. This icy combo is ideal sipping for balmy days. Garnish it with a citrusy squeeze of lemon juice and a few dashes of grapefruit bitters, or give it some savory appeal with a trio of olives on a spear—we wouldn’t blame you for adding a splash of brine, too.

Mix It with Rye

The Gin Martini may be the first classic cocktail that comes to mind when you think of dry vermouth, but it shouldn’t be the last. Bartenders of yore were fond of mixing the aromatized wine with rye whiskey. The most well-known example of this is the Perfect Manhattan, which splits its portion of vermouth between sweet and dry. The dry stuff gets an even more prominent role in the Brooklyn—a blend of rye, dry vermouth, bittersweet Amer Picon and maraschino liqueur—and the Scofflaw, which gives rye and dry vermouth a sweet-sour edge with lime juice and grenadine. All are great options when you want something strong and stirred but just can’t stomach another Martini.

Make a White Negroni

The White Negroni, a golden twist on the Campari-spiked Italian aperitif cocktail, blends gin with a touch of dry vermouth, Cocchi Americano and Aveze, a bitter gentian liqueur. The resulting drink is a wonderfully bittersweet Negroni variation that will make you glad you’ve got so much leftover vermouth.

Use It as a Base in Low ABV Cocktails

If we’re being real, dry vermouth doesn’t need to be mixed with any spirit to make it work wonders in a cocktail. It can be simply mixed with orange liqueur and lime juice to create a Queen Elizabeth, a citrusy, low-proof spin on a sour cocktail. Or, if you’re craving something with more depth, blend it with sherry, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters to get a Coronation. Better yet, follow a Coronation with a Queen Elizabeth while watching The Crown to get a triple dose of royal treatment. Too much?

Other Notable Vermouth Cocktails

Vieux Carre: A New Orleans take on the Manhattan in which the whiskey is replaced with Cognac and a touch of Benedictine. This one’s not for the faint of heart.

Boulevardier: If you prefer brown spirits to gin, try the Boulevardier, a twist on the Negroni made with rye.

Bamboo: From the famous Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan, this classic is a great afternoon sipper. The cocktail combines the elegance of Noilly Prat Dry vermouth with a funky Amontillado sherry.

Vesper: If you’re trying to stink the bar up with some class, the Vesper works magic. It’s made with both gin and vodka, so you can try all manner of gin and vodka pairings. You can thank James Bond for this one, since the drink first appeared in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

50/50 Martini: For true vermouth lover, this Martini variation calls for equal pours of gin and dry vermouth, really letting the aromatized wine shine. With 1.5 ounces of vermouth, be sure to choose a quality bottling.

Cook With It

Though we certainly prefer to drink our dry vermouth, we’ve also found that it comes in very handy when cooking. And in the event that you did forget to chill your bottle and it’s no longer good enough for cocktails, using it around the kitchen is a great way to salvage what’s left (provided it hasn’t turned too much). The easiest way to use vermouth in your cooking is simply by substituting it in where you would normally use white wine—from deglazing pans to making simple sauces to flavoring pasta. It’s not only an easy way to use up the bottle for good, but it packs a whole lot more aroma and flavor than most wines would.

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Anna Archibald is a Thrillist contributor.