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Tips for Implementing a Successful Vermouth Program
July 2009


From Mixologist Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard—Boston, MA
1) Get an accurate scale. The quantities of botanicals required to make vermouth will need to be weighed down to tenths of a gram (at the very least).

2) Measure out batches of the dried herbs. This will make future production and recipe tweaking a lot faster and easier. 

3) Lesser name, better value ingredients are more appropriate. The character of the wine, spirits and ports will impact the vermouth's flavor profile immensely. If you have some favorite products, do use them, but remember: The best wine, cognac, port and grappa should be enjoyed as it is, and better value ingredients are more appropriate for making vermouth.

From Mixologist Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli of Craigie on Main—Boston, MA
1) Don't rush. There are two main methods to making vermouth: you can let it infuse over time or you can use heat to infuse rapidly. The more time the vermouth sits with the botanicals, the deeper the infusion will be.  Most of Schlesinger-Guidelli’s vermouths take about ten days. When should you extract the infusion? Take the herbs and spices off right before the bright top notes begin to fade.

2) Don't be afraid of burning your caramel. Everything put into the vermouth adds a new level to the overall flavor. The caramel can be toasted further than one would expect to create deeper, and richer flavors in the same way a chef may use a dark roux. This works particularly well with the ambre vermouth.  
 
3) Plan ahead. If you’re looking to implement vermouth into your cocktail program, make it the right way every time. Don't be afraid to take a cocktail off of the list for three days because the batch you are working on took an extra couple of days. If you know that your recipe takes ten days, be ahead by a couple of days.  It's better to not serve a house-made vermouth for a day than it is to serve a bad one.

From Vermouth Expert Mayur Subbarao—New York, NY
1) Do one at a time initially. Really play with one style. Get good at that one style before making other ones. Consistency is a lot harder to achieve that one thinks it’s going to be. The difference between doing something at the hobby level and doing something professionally is being able to achieve consistency.

2) Use vermouth in any number of cocktails. Showcasing vermouth in light simple drinks (like the Americano) is fun, but it a good bartender should be able to figure out what flavor they wants in a particular cocktail For example, New York Consultant-mixologist Alex Day at Allen & Delancey uses Subbarao’s Kina Lillet replica to spice up a Corpse Reviver #2.

3) Keep a spice rack at the bar. Stock a cabinet with the full range of herbs, spices, and other aromatics used in vermouths. Constantly smell and sample different combinations of spices to develop your knowledge of the flavors. 

 
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  • Jackson Cannon Feature
  • Barolo Chinato
  • Exploring Italian Bitters
  • Make Your Own Bitters with Todd Thrasher


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