You Really Need to be Drinking Vermouth Right Now

Alessio Vermouth Bianco
Alessio Vermouth Bianco

Why drink vermouth?

Vermouth is a light, refreshing drink that is perfect to sip during summer. It has depth and complexity that make it a delight to drink on its own, and make it an intriguing ingredient in excellent cocktails.

How do I drink vermouth?

Let’s burn down the tired trope that vermouth is only for old ladies, or only a mixer for cocktails. It’s true that vermouth is great in a lot of fantastic classic cocktails like the Negroni (Happy Negroni Week!), the Martini, and the Manhattan, but it is delicious all on its own. It was originally made to serve straight as an apéritif or a digestif. That’s exactly how you should drink it this summer.

Chill it. Pour it. Drink it.

If you want vermouth in a “cocktail” without the fuss, pour it on ice and serve it with an orange twist. Or add a little soda water to it.

Let’s get started. Go into your liquor cabinet and fish out that dusty, half-empty bottle of vermouth and throw it away. Now run out and grab a new bottle of fresh vermouth and make it a go-to drink for the summer.

What is vermouth?

The reason you should throw away a perfectly good bottle of vermouth that is half full is because vermouth is made with wine. You would never drink a glass of wine after leaving an open bottle sitting around for a few months, would you? It loses its flavor and gets oxidized. Vermouth lasts a little bit longer than normal wine, because its fortified with spirits to stabilize it. Once open, keep vermouth in the fridge and it will retain its flavor for about three weeks. Consider buying 350 ml bottles if you don’t want to waste any.

Vermouth gets its distinct flavor because the wine is flavored with the Artemisia herb, aka wormwood, the main flavoring ingredient in absinthe. Each type of vermouth has its own blend of other aromatic herbs in a range of dry to sweet styles.

Which vermouth should I drink?

Vermouth has grown popularity in the U.S. in recent years, making it easier to find high-quality brands at bars, restaurants, and shops. A few good brands to look for include Primitivo Quiles and Yzaguirre from Spain; Dolin and Nouilly Prat from France; and Carpano, Carpano Antica, Cinzano, and Cocchi from Italy.

Alessio Vermouths from Tempus Fugit Spirits

Lately I’ve been diggin’ Alessio Vermouths made in Italy. This family of vermouths from the Tempus Fugit Spirits company are fairly new to Texas, but incredibly easy to find at most wine shops and good bars around the state.

Started in 2001 by Peter Schaff in Europe and John Troia in California, Tempus Fugit Spirits is all about recreating historic recipes for classic spirits and liqueurs. Schaff developed a fondness for absinthe during many visits to Paris for business. After the re-legalization of absinthe in the U.S. in 2007, Schaff and Troia started working on absinthe recipes in Europe. They created Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe and grew the portfolio from it to include Amari, such as Gran Classico Bitter, liqueurs, and the Alessio Vermouths.

Recently the brand ambassador for Tempus Fugit took me on a tour of the company’s vermouth.

Alessio Vermouth Bianco

Alessio Rosita Cocktail
Alessio Rosita Cocktail

 

This sweet white Italian vermouth just landed in Austin in time for summer sipping. It is made with fortified white wine base in a similar style to the original vermouth blanc from Chambéry, France, where Dolin is made, but with a higher thujone levels from the wormwood. Made in Piedmont, Italy, it has lively citrus and grapefruit, sweet spices, mild bitterness and a lovely sweetness on the finish. Kick back with this “Vino di Moda” (fashion wine) chilled in a white wine glass or mixed in classic cocktail. It has 18% ABV and sells for about $23 for a 750 ml.

We had it in a version of the Rosita Cocktail:

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce Alessio Vermouth Bianco
  • 1 ounce Gran Classic Bitter

Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso

Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso
Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso

 

Made with a classic di Torino recipe from the late 19th century, this vermouth is made with Trebbiano wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, and both Grande and Petite Wormwood grown in Piedmont as the main bittering agents, along with more than 25 herbs, roots and spices. Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso is created with an elaborate production method to create extractions of various roots and herbs like cardamom, coriander and cassia cinnamon. It is absolutely delicious on its own with bright citrus, complex herbal flavors, fig, Christmas cake, and a fun balance of sweet and bitter. Enjoy this “Vino di Lusso” (luxury wine) on its own or with a splash of soda. The 17% ABV sells for about $24 for 750 ml.

Alessio Vermouth Chinato

Alessio Vermouth Chinato
Alessio Vermouth Chinato

 

This vermouth is made with the same 19th century recipe, the same wine base, the same 25 other herbs, including Grande and Petite Wormwood, but it differs in that it also has the addition of Cinchona bark. Cinchona is bitter source of quinine, and the same bittering agent that was used in the original Kina Lillet and also in Cocchi Americano. It gives Alessio Vermouth Chinato a super complex flavor with bright lemon, sweet caramelized almonds, chocolate, cola nut, and raisin flavors. It’s great in any cocktail that calls for sweet vermouth. I prefer to sip this vermouth straight with hard cheeses. It’s amazing. The 16.5% ABV vermouth sells for around $25 for a 750 ml.

Alessio Vino Chinato

Alessio Vino Chinato

Vermouth made from red wine is relatively rare, but that is exactly what we have with Alessio Vino Chinato. It is made with Nebbiolo d’Alba grapes grown in the Piedmont region of Italy, Cinchona bark, but no Wormwood. What does it taste like? Think of an amazing Barolo with firm tannin, and bold red and black fruit flavors, and then add a dollop of sweetness, herbal flavors, and bitterness. This is an elegant aperitif sipper before a meal, or as a digestif with a bit of dark chocolate after dinner. It is new to Austin in the past month, so go about and grab a bottle for about $30.

Make vermouth your go to drink this summer.

Disclosure: I was provided with samples for review at no charge.

What are you drinking?

The Townsend salutes the Paramount Theatre with special cocktail

The venerable Paramount Theatre  in downtown Austin will light its new blade sign today to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The new 50 foot tall sign is an exact replica of the original one that was removed in the 1960s.

Photo courtesy of the Paramount Facebook page
Photo courtesy of the Paramount Facebook page

 

In honor of the sign lighting, The Townsend, located at 718 Congress Avenue, which is located directly across the street in the glow of the Theatre marquee, has created the Blade Reviver #2 cocktail. The drink is served with a short fact sheet detailing the 100 year history of the Paramount Theatre in honor of this historic event.

The Townsend is hosting a private event after the relighting tonight, Wednesday, September 23. The Blade Reviver #2 will be served at the bar and available nightly (open 4:00 p.m. to 2 a.m.) through Sunday the 27th.

The Blade Reviver courtesy of The Townsend
The Blade Reviver #2 courtesy of The Townsend

 

 

Blade Reviver #2

  • Tito’s Vodka
  • Combier Pamplemousse liqueur
  • lime juice
  • Salers Gentiane Aperitif liqueur
  • Underberg

“The Blade Reviver #2 is refreshing, but with an spicy earthiness and an old-world funk that I think really beautifully connects this drink to a mythical Austin of generations past,” says Justin Elliott, food and beverage wrangler, The Townsend

The Paramount will be celebrating with multiple parties tonight with prime views of the relighting ceremony, including a street party on Congress Avenue in front of the Theatre. After the vertical sign and the glowing flame is relit, the party will continue inside the Paramount with a special Patty Griffin CD release show. Tickets to the celebration are available at www.austintheatre.org.

What are you drinking? 

 

 

icenhauer’s makes a drink for Movember

I’ve been a strong supporter of the Livestrong Foundation and have raised more than $15,000 over the past few year’s to help people fight cancer. So when I saw that icenhauer’s has created a drink called The Hair Raiser  and will donate $1 from every one sold in Movember  to the  The Livestrong Foundation, I got pretty excited. Here is an easy way to support an important cause, doing something I love.

Movember is a fantastic movement that encourages men to grow a furry caterpillar on their upper lip to raise awareness for prostate cancer. If you weren’t aware that this is going on, its the reason you see otherwise clean shaven dudes trying to sprout “porn stars,” “handlebars,” and  the occasional “fu man shu.”

I did it a couple years ago and just can’t bare the disgusted looks I get when people see how ugly I look in a mustache. I’m glad I can lazily support Movember by drinking The Hair Raiser. icenhauers says the spicy, simple and fresh drink is sure grow some hair on your face.

The Hair Raiser

  • 1.5 ounce of Belvedere Bloody Mary Vodka
  • Cucumber slice
  • Jalapeño slice
  • Muddle both the cucumber and the jalapeño
  • Add simple syrup and fresh lime juice
  • Shake and strain over ice

What are you drinking?