Vermouth, an Aromatized Wine

Updated: Nov 9

Originally used for medical purposes, vermouth made its way into cocktail culture as a drink to enjoy neat or mixed into a cocktail. Cocktails, such as the Manhattan, have kept vermouth behind bars around the world, however it is not uncommon to see the precious liquid stored improperly. Although vermouth never spoils, it will lose its flavor and become stale or dull. Store your vermouth with a tight seal in a refrigerator (never the freezer) and keep it away from direct sunlight. Do this and your vermouth should hold for up to 6 weeks. If you see vermouth hidden on a back bar, instead of ordering a Manhattan, a Daiquiri may be a safer bet.

A few ways we utilize vermouth at Kuleana Rum Works are with classic drinks like the Martini, or the Manhattan. A fun way to reconnect to an old favorite vermouth cocktail is to switch out the base spirit as we did here with our Perfect Rum Manhattan utilizing dry and sweet vermouth, Kuleana Rum and bitters.

The Perfect Rum Manhattan

2 oz Nanea .75 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth .75 oz Dolin dry vermouth 1 dash angostura bitters 1 dash grapefruit bitters Stir with ice, strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a grapefruit zest

WATCH VIDEO: The Perfect Manhattan


Vermouth is classified as an aromatized wine and defined as a fortified wine flavored with wormwood and other herbs, fruits and spices. The name itself has ties to wormwood as well as deriving from the Greco-Roman name of the herb Artemisia or in German ‘vermut.’ The EU has regulations controlling aromatized wines:

  • Obtained from a wine base of 75% before enhancement

  • May have added grape must, fresh or fermenting, to which alcohol has been added (primarily for arresting fermentation and for stabilizing purposes)

  • Flavored with the aid of natural flavoring preparations, aromatic herbs, spices, or flavoring foodstuffs

  • Generally sweetened and possibly colored with caramel

  • 14.5% - 22% ABV with the following exceptions: “extra dry” products must have a minimum of 15% abv “dry”minimum of 16% abv

Also the sugar levels are regulated.

  • Extra dry: less than 30 g/L

  • Dry: less than 50 g/L

  • Semi-dry: between 50 – 90 g/L

  • Semi-sweet: between 90 – 130 g/L

  • Sweet: more than 130 g/L

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