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It would be easy to forget about that bottle of sweet vermouth hiding in your liquor cabinet but that would be a mistake. Instead, discover more than a dozen sweet vermouth cocktails that make great use of the oft-forgotten mixer.
Kudos if you recently bought your first bottle of sweet vermouth.
Perhaps you were motivated to craft a Negroni Sbagliato after it became a social media sensation. Or maybe you were inspired to recreate a different Italian cocktail that you sipped in Florence while enjoying a quiet moment at the Piazza Santo Spirito.
We bought our first sweet vermouth bottle to craft classic Negronis when we were cocktail newbies. After we crafted those cocktails, we placed the vermouth bottle on the back of the shelf, thinking it would likely collect dust for years. Fast forward to the present and we’ve since bought multiple bottles of sweet vermouth to craft many more Negronis plus other cocktails, both classic and modern.
What Is Sweet Vermouth?
Since sweet vermouth is a popular cocktail ingredient, you probably have a bottle in your liquor cabinet. But, if you’re like most people, you probably never thought too much about what sweet vermouth is and isn’t.
In simple terms, sweet vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine that derives its complex flavor from dozens of herbs and spices. Not surprisingly, sweet vermouth isn’t dry. You’ll need to buy a bottle of dry vermouth if that’s the kind of vermouth you’re seeking for recipes like the Gibson and Old Pal.
Although the Italians didn’t invent vermouth, they championed the sweet version after Antonio Benedetto Carpano, a resident of Turin, sold his first bottle in 1786. Besides Carpano, other Italian sweet vermouth producers include Cinzano, Cocchi and Martini & Rossi.
While early imbibers sought medicinal benefits from sweet vermouth, they quickly realized the virtue of drinking sweet vermouth over ice, both with and without club soda, as an apéritif. Eventually, mixologists started adding sweet vermouth to mixed drinks along with liquors like bourbon and gin.
The rest, as they say, is cocktail history.
Sweet Vermouth Cocktails
Modern drinkers now buy bottles of sweet vermouth to craft cocktails at home. While the ruby red elixir isn’t the primary ingredient in many cocktails beyond than the classic Vermouth Spritz, sweet vermouth provides the color and flavor that transform certain cocktails from good to great.
Now that we’ve piqued your interest in sweet vermouth, we recommend pulling out your bottle and crafting one or more of the following cocktails:
13 of the Best Sweet Vermouth Cocktails
Unique for its deep red color and acerbic flavor, a the classic Negroni packs a punch with equal parts of bitter Campari, dry gin and sweet vermouth.
Simultaneously boozy and smooth, the Vieux Carré may be our favorite New Orleans cocktail. Follow our easy Vieux Carré recipe and decide if it may be your favorite too.
The Negroni Sbagliato was allegedly invented by mistake. Fast forward 50 years and this mistaken ‘Negroni with Prosecco’ has become a worldwide sensation. Join the hype and craft one at home.
A Boulevardier cocktail is a Negroni crafted with bourbon instead of gin. Follow our easy recipe and craft a Boulevardier at home in just five minutes.
The Emerald cocktail is proof that there are many roads to cocktail bliss. It’s also a fine Irish whiskey cocktail that’s as easy to craft as it is to sip.
You probably aren’t familiar with the Martinez unless you’re either a cocktail connoisseur or a history buff. But once you try this classic gin drink, you’ll surely be a fan. Follow our easy Martinez cocktail recipe and craft one at home in just five minutes.
The Diplomat cocktail is ideal to imbibe during secret liaisons involving international negotiations and other clandestine affairs. It’s also a tasty tipple that you can craft at home in just five minutes.
Crafting a Bourbon Manhattan at home is both easy and rewarding. Follow our recipe and craft the classic cocktail at home in just five minutes. You’ll feel like you’re at your favorite bar at 1am but without the drama.
The Bijou cocktail is a bold and boozy jewel that we covet all year long but especially during the holidays. The opposite of a lightweight, this sparkly amber cocktail adds a festive flair to any drinking session.
The sophisticated Americano cocktail is a lazy mixologist’s dream come true. Learn how to craft the classic Italian cocktail in five minutes or less.
It may be a ‘long way to Tipperary’ but the journey to craft a Tipperary cocktail is short and sweet. If you follow our easy Tipperary cocktail recipe, you’ll be sipping the potent classic cocktail in mere minutes.
The Bronx isn’t just one of New York City’s most culturally diverse boroughs. It’s also a drink that blends gin with orange juice and two different vermouths. The result is a classic gin cocktail that’s as easy to sip as it is to craft.
Just thinking about the Hanky Panky cocktail makes us smile beyond its giggle-inducing name. This classic cocktail takes the gin martini to exciting levels with two magical dashes of Fernet-Branca. And, like most classic cocktails, it’s super easy to craft at home with just a few ingredients including sweet vermouth.
Sweet Vermouth FAQs
Sweet vermouth is aromatized fortified wine that derives its complex flavor from dozens of herbs and spices
While there’s no harm in drinking sweet vermouth on the rocks, with or without a splash of club soda, the best way to drink the fortified red wine is in crafted cocktails.
The most iconic sweet vermouth cocktails include the Americano, Manhattan and Negroni.
Storing sweet vermouth in the refrigerator extends its shelf life. While drinking old sweet vermouth won’t make you sick, sweet vermouth slowly loses its flavor after the bottle is opened.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: May 14, 2023