I thought a lot about what I would drink once my cleanse was over, and I could have alcohol in my life again. I’m a lover of white wine, but just before my cleanse started I was introduced to the world of vermouth cocktails by a talented barkeep at Blackberry Farm. In July, he served me up a simple drink so light and summery that I can’t stop thinking about it.
I’ve always kind of thought of vermouth as that terrible stuff in some grandmother’s liquor cabinet that no one ever touched. But it turns out there are lots of delicious vermouths that, when mixed with fresh fruit juice and soda, compose a cocktail more refreshing (and sometimes lower in alcohol) than the lightest white wine. Perfect for cooling off in the evenings.
Because I’m new to these, I got a primer from a friend of mine in the booze business. Here’s what I learned: Vermouth and many other “aperitivi” almost always come from France or Italy. They are usually fortified wines infused with herbs, roots and barks. They can be sweet or savory; every house has a different style. And because they are so flavorful on their own, you usually only need very simple mixers to create a complex tasting cocktail. Oh, and one more tip: for best results, store in the refrigerator and drink them within a month or so. They are not that much stronger than wine, so they will spoil.
Here are some recipes I’ve been playing with. Don’t be too literal with them. Just trust your gut and blend to taste.
Dolin Blanc vermouth (be sure to get the blanc, not the dry)
Juice from 2 small lime wedges
In a cocktail shaker, combine mint leaves and ice. Add one part Dolin Blanc and one part Club Soda. Squeeze in the lime juice. Stir or shake (shaking makes it a little weaker because more water stays behind). Strain into a cocktail glass and add a sprig of mint.
Dolin Blanc is also delicious with a touch of orange juice and mint on ice.
Cocchi Americano vermouth
Juice from 2 lemon wedges
Three or Four large lemon verbena leaves
In a cocktail shaker add ice, a few ounces of Cocchi Americano, and the lemon verbena leaves. Shake vigorously. Add to a champagne glass or coupe, and top with a splash of Prosecco.
Two Orange slices
In a large glass, add crushed ice and two orange slices or one orange wheel. Pour the Aperol over the ice and top with a splash of Prosecco.