Episode 042 - The Vermouth Episode

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What’s shakin, cocktail fans?

Welcome back to another episode of the Modern Bar Cart Podcast! I’m your host, Eric Kozlik, and thanks for joining me for another great interview episode, where we track down an expert on a certain aspect of cocktails, spirits, or home bartending, and let them give us a crash course on their particular area of expertise.

Today’s guest is Kat Hamidi of Capitoline Vermouth (@capitolinevermouth on Instagram), and she’s been making vermouth in restaurants and for off-the-shelf sales for years.

In this wide ranging conversation, some of the things we discuss include:

  • How vermouth is defined around the world, and what distinguishes different types from one another
  • The process of bringing recipes from her days in the restaurant industry to life in a distillery setting.
  • A special tasting of those products, where we hash out flavor profiles and ingredients.
  • Popular cocktails where vermouth is a main character, rather than a supporting cast member
  • Kat’s new mission to make a vermouth cocktail for her celebrity crush
  • And much, much more.

I think we’ve all seen vermouth’s rise from obscurity in the past few years, and after you listen to this episode, I’m sure you’ll join me in the opinion that this ain’t your grandma’s dusty green bottle anymore.

Featured Cocktail: The Adonis

Today’s featured cocktail is the Adonis cocktail, which was developed in the 1880s when Vermouth really hit its stride here in the U.S. and is named in honor of the first Broadway musical to eclipse 500 shows.

It’s a very light cocktail, and it’s an excellent aperitif if you’re looking to keep things reasonable on a weeknight, or if you’re doing some light day drinking.

To make an Adonis cocktail, all you need is two bottles: sweet vermouth and sherry. And to be quite honest, we haven’t talked a whole lot about sherry on the podcast, but basically, you can think of it as another type of fortified wine, similar to vermouth, but made using different methods.

So, you take equal parts (usually 1 or 1.5 oz) of sweet vermouth and sherry, combine those in a stirring glass with ice, add a few dashes of orange bitters, stir, and then strain into a wine glass or stemmed cocktail glass. The last step is to garnish with an orange twist, but sometimes I like to get funky and toss a lemon twist in there instead if I’m feeling rebellious.

The Value of Low-ABV Drinks

One note I’ll make here is that, as a host, it’s your responsibility to think of your guests’ safety and enjoyment throughout the whole event you’re hosting. And part of that is knowing how to tactfully moderate alcohol to make sure things stay fun and safe. To that end, a really sessionable cocktail like the Adonis, or the Americano, which we’ll mention later, is a really great asset to have at your disposal. You get all of the great flavor of a handcrafted drink, plus the control that comes with lower ABV.

Show Notes

There are a few vermouth-related specifics to keep in mind as you head to the bar or the liquor store.

Types of Vermouth

  1. Dry - normally used in combination with clear spirits. Yellowish in color. Floral, with fairly high acidity.
  2. Sweet - Dark red, garnet, or purple in color. Sweet. Can be lighter (French style) or highly aromatized (Italian/Spanish style)
  3. White/Blanc - Often the sweetest of the three. Used in clear spirit drinks where dry vermouth is too dry and acidic.

Popular Vermouth-Driven Cocktails

The Adonis

  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz Sherry

    Stir over ice, and garnishe with an orange twist. Sparkling water may be added.

The Americano

  • 1 oz Campari (or another bitter Aperitivo)
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 4-6 oz soda water

Combine ingredients over ice, adding soda water last. Garnish with a citrus twist.

The Negroni

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  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Combine ingredients in a mixing pint with ice, stir well, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist. For an added splash of citrus, float several dashes of Embitterment Orange Bitters on top.

Lightning Round

Favorite Cocktail

The Adonis (see above)

Favorite Spirit

Gin

Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

Bill Hader (of SNL and the new HBO Comedy Barry). I think he's one of the funniest people out there.

Influential Cocktail Books

Advice for New Home Bartenders

  1. Refigerate your vermouth, sherry, and wine.
  2. Try any ingredient you're excited about.
  3. Technique is more intimidating on first-sight than in practice.