Friday, 23 January 2015

Friday Cocktail: V for Vermouth

Most people have heard of vermouth - the staple of the classic martini and the dusty old bottle at the back of your grandma's drinks cupboards - but we aren't really sure what it is.

The short answer is an aromatic fortified wine - but you can read a longer answer about what vermouth is and where vermouth originated here.

Why is it important for you to know? Because (as the link above will tell you) vermouth is back, baby. Back with a bang. And you're about to discover how easy it is to wow people with your vermouth cocktails at parties. YAY FRIDAY.

Part of the reason vermouth is such a huge drinks trend for 2015 is because there have been some new premium vermouth brands emerging - created by people who really know what they're doing, and catapulting this martini ingredient into its own limelight.

I recently discovered Belsazar vermouth - a brand new range to the UK, which is made in Germany near the Black Forest. They make a dry, white, rose and red vermouth, using six different wines and 20 aromatic herbs, spices, peels and blossoms, as well as some small-batch fruit brandies.

They kindly sent me some to try, and to be honest I was blown away with how much I love them. I was expecting to want to use them to jazz up some cocktails, but they were so tasty they're good enough to sip over ice, which I really wasn't expecting! Here are some basic tasting notes for them:

Belsazar Dry Vermouth - Crisp and appley with a light, bitter finish. Very classy.
(available £16.75 per half-bottle at The Whisky Exchange, £24.45 per whole bottle at Master of Malt)

Belsazar White Vermouth - a punchy peach-flavoured vermouth with gorgeous orange and almond notes and sweet spices.
(£17.95 per half at The Whisky Exchange, £27.45 per whole bottle at Master of Malt)

Belsazar Rose Vermouth - zesty but packed with juicy summer fruits, which work really well with the typical aromatic vermouthy-ness.
(£17.25 per half at The Whisky Exchange, £25.45 per whole bottle at Master of Malt)

Belsazar Red - a powerful, rich red vermouth with cherry, brown sugar and wintry spice.
(£18.45 per half at The Whisky Exchange, £25.45 per whole bottle at Master of Malt)

As I said, these are complex but delicate enough to be sipped slowly over ice, but here are some other drinking suggestions:

The G&T of 2015: The Rose Vermouth and Tonic

Fruitier than the fino and tonic I suggested last year, but lighter and spicier than gin and tonic, this is a real winner for me!


50ml vermouth
125ml tonic
Plenty of ice

Shake it!

1. Pour the ingredients into a glass over ice.
2. Stir gently and garnish with a wedge of grapefruit or lime.

The Summer Nearly cocktail recipe

Named after my near Summer Lily (she's turning 5 in a week or two, so it will be a fair few years before she gets to try it!) this is a delicate, aromatic cocktail that whispers that warmer weather is on its way...


60ml rose vermouth
100ml pomegranate juice
15ml lime juice
soda to top (roughly 75ml)

Shake it!

1. Add the vermouth, pomegranate juice and lime juice to a glass of ice and stir gently.
2. Top up with soda and stir gently again. Garnish with a lime wedge.

The Apple Fizz cocktail recipe 


50ml dry vermouth
75ml apple juice
2 dashes orange bitters (optional)
50ml sparkling wine/50ml soda

Shake it!

1. Add the vermouth, apple juice and bitters to a tall glass filled with ice.
2. Top up with the soda/sparkling wine (depending on how boozy you like it) and stir gently.
3. Garnish with an apple slice (if desired!)

Happy weekend, everybody! 

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