Friday, February 25, 2011

Vermouth, Who?

It's all fun and games until someone breaks out the Rye
 About 15 years ago I was introduced to vermouth as a cocktail, not just a mixer. There were a few high end vermouths that I would sip on a regular basis. At that time it was only dry vermouth that I was interested in. I never put much thought into trying sweet vermouth. Actually, I never understood what sweet vermouth "really" added to a cocktail.

Last night my world opened up. Earlier on in the week a customer of mine asked me to special order Carpano sweet vermouth. He also insisted that I get a bottle for myself to try. Twist my arm.

High West Double Rye and Carpano Sweet Vermouth
As soon as I brought the glass up to my nose, I was greeted with sweet herbal notes with hints of clove, cinnamon, and black cherries. On the palate it showed some licorice, mint, orange rind, nutmeg and dried herbs. It was a flavor assault on the front of the palate and then subsided fairly quickly to a finish that left me thinking about what other herbs and spices I might get with the next sip. It was awesome. Then I decided to drop a couple of ice cubes in the glass and swirl it around a bit. I went at it again. Wow. The ice opened up all of the fruit, softened the herbal qualities and mellowed the spices. This time the finish was long, sweet and elegant. This was amazing.

Since I was drinking vermouth, I decided I would make a half-version of a Manhattan; vermouth and whiskey. I immediately reached for the two ryes that I had open in my stash of whiskeys. I got two rocks glasses, filled them with ice and threw in one part vermouth to three parts rye. The two ryes were High West Double Rye and Tuthilltown Hudson Manhattan Rye. 

The Manhattan Rye proved to be a bit too herbaceous, earthy or gritty/grainy with the vermouth. The Double Rye seemed to be more of a contrast in flavors with the vermouth. I think it created a much better balance between the delicate flavors of the vermouth and the robust flavors of the Double Rye. 
An Empty bottle of Manhattan Rye = Sad Times

Later on in the evening, I had dinner with my fiancee and some friends at our local favorite farm-to-fork restaurant, leFarm. I brought the bottle of vermouth there, too. The other couple that we met there just happened to bring a bottle of Whistle Pig Canadian Rye by pure coincidence. Or was it? Hmmm... Makes ya think. Anyway, Whistle Pig + Carpano = better. This time, I tried something different. I poured two parts vermouth to one part WP neat. Yup. That was perfect. leFarm was perfect, too.


  1. Two things:

    1.) That was the best effing Manhattan I ever had. I didn't miss the cherry or the twist. Thank you SO MUCH.

    2.) What kind of camera do you have? I am shopping DSLRs and I am doing a lot of research on it.

  2. I'm using the Rebel XSi. It's got a good easy-to-use interface.

    I was drinking those Manahattans all weekend long. Soooo tasty!

  3. That mini Manhattan sounds divine. How do you think the Carpano would taste in a Negroni? Either way I think I need some in my life.