Sweeten Up Your Bar Cart with Vermouth

In the face of the craft cocktail boom, vermouth is still an often misunderstood liquor. While Martini & Rossi was once the standard mixer for the classic Martini or Manhattan, any vermouth can be made by infusing wine with brandy and herbs. As such, artisanal vermouth has recently taken its turn in the spotlight, with small batch distilleries popping up across the country.

First created in 18th-century Italy for medicinal purposes, vermouth reached its peak as an ingredient in the aforementioned classic cocktails. While the liquor may have fallen by the wayside in years since, relegated to the dusty annals of vintage cocktail books, it's recently made a return as a commonly found mixer in a variety of drinks. Jim Meehan of New York's PDT (and author of The PDT Cocktail Book, an excellent starter guide for the home bartender) cites his vermouth-based Astoria Bianco (made from Martini Bianco, gin, and orange bitters) as one of the cocktails that made his career, and vermouth is making its way to bar shelves across the country due to its classic, forward taste.

Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth comes to us from a distillery in Gaston, Oregon, with a base of Oregon-grown pinot gris, American oak-aged brandy, and nine botanicals for flavor. This well-balanced (although leaning towards the sweeter side) vermouth has elderflower, tangerine, vanilla, and herbal aromatics, a palate of pear, lemongrass, and honey flavor, and finishes with a sweet, but bitter bite. At just 16.5% ABV, Imbue Bittersweet is perfect for sipping on the rocks or mixing. For a summertime classic, combine with gin, ice, and Campari for a traditional Negroni.

Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth is available direct from Imbue for $25.