Dry Vermouth

Dry Vermouth is a very underappreciated character. Neat or cut with soda it can make a fine aperitif before dinner or to accompany a heavy seafood dish, and it serves admirably as a substitute for white wine in many recipes (I keep the herby Martini and Rossi in the house for that purpose), but it is perhaps most maligned when it comes to its role in a Dry Martini.

Everyone by now has heard the extravagant lengths to which certain celebrity drinkers of the 1950s and '60s would go to have the slightest possible exposure of vermouth to gin. In my opinion, a little of that was justified, but it became fashionable to deplore Dry Vermouth and that poor spirit has never recovered.

The situation has deteriorated so that I recently went into a restaurant and ordered a dry martini, only to be queried as to whether I wanted and dry vermouth in it.

The Dry Martini is a cocktail made of gin and vermouth, and sometimes a dash of bitters or a drop of Pernod or other adornment, typically garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon, it is not gin on the rocks,

There are many Dry Vermouths available in New England. Some are more sweet or herbal or spicy than others. Each dry vermouth has different strengths and suitability as a foil for different gins. To find your own pefect Martini, you need to know about gins and vermouths and how their flavors complement each other.

Many of the currently available dry vermouths are compared in the pages below this one:

  • Noilly Pratt, Martini & Rossi, and Dolin
  • Boissiere and Vya
  • Cinzano (and Stock, Tribuno and Gallo)
Of particular note to New England foodies, Sweetgrass Farm Winery and Distillery makes a fine Dry Vermouth - but you have to get it at the farm in Union, Maine!