All Vermouth Isn’t the Same — These Are the Best to Use for 8 Classic Cocktails

The simpler the recipe, the more important each ingredient is.

<p>Food & Wine / Getty</p>

Food & Wine / Getty

Vermouth has been feeling the love in recent years, and great ones from around the world can easily be found in wine and spirit shops across the country. They’re all unique, of course, with different base wines and botanicals underpinning their recipes, but the best vermouths will improve any cocktail they’re stirred or shaken with.

The recommendations below are great starting points for making the most of your vermouth journey.

3 Main Types of Vermouth to Know

  • Dry Vermouth: The classic component in a Martini or a Perfect Manhattan (alongside sweet vermouth). As the name suggests, it’s quite dry on the palate, and often brings notes of flowers, spices, and herbs to a cocktail, though individual recipes will vary among brands.

  • Blanc (or Bianco) Vermouth: Has more sugar than its dry counterparts but isn’t really sweet. This can be used in many cocktail recipes that call for dry vermouth, but be careful about your ratios, as the added sugar can throw off the drink’s balance if you don’t modify slightly.

  • Sweet Vermouth: Also often referred to as Red Vermouth (though not all of them are red), brings richer flavors of ripe fruit, sweet spices like vanilla in many cases, and sometimes even a sense of savoriness underpinning it all. It’s the classic addition to a Manhattan and a Negroni, but since recipes vary so dramatically by brand, it’s best to experiment with which you prefer in any given cocktail.

Best vermouth for a Gin Martini

Noilly Prat Original Dry is a standard French vermouth in many bars for a reason. Its excellent blend of 20 botanicals — bitter orange and chamomile are fairly prominent but far from dominating — make for a supremely elegant Martini and work well alongside a wide range of gins. As a bonus, it also lends fantastic complexity to a vodka Martini.

Best vermouth for a Reverse Martini

Since vermouth plays the starring role in this cocktail, choosing the right one is critical to its success. The Lustau line has become a favorite of bartenders — the red makes for an unforgettable Manhattan — and the Dry Vermut (Spanish for vermouth) is built on a base of Manzanilla sherry, which helps to create a savory, almost salty Reverse Martini.

Best vermouth for a Perfect Manhattan

This riff on a classic Manhattan cocktail hasn’t yet had its star turn, which is inexplicable considering how delicious it is. The recipe is simple: Instead of stirring together the usual ratio of two parts rye or bourbon and one part sweet vermouth (plus bitters), you split the vermouth into half a part sweet and half dry.

It’s important to experiment with different combinations, but Dolin, with its mildly bitter and subtly floral notes, tends to play well with a range of sweet vermouths.

Related: 5 Best Tonics for a Gin and Tonic

Best vermouth for a White Negroni

A White Negroni traditionally calls for Lillet in place of vermouth, but as with every other form of Negroni, this one has seen plenty of variations. One of the more popular iterations replaces either (but not both!) of the non-gin components with Blanc vermouth, which is slightly sweeter than its classic dry counterpart.

Try La Pivón Blanco from Spain (its woodsy spice and citrus peel notes lend warmth and depth to this cocktail) or Cinzano Bianco from Italy, whose juxtaposition of marjoram and white peach makes for a totally different White Negroni experience.

Best vermouth for an El Presidente

Your selection of rum for an El Presidente, a cocktail that typically has twice as much of the spirit as it does of vermouth, is going to have a big impact on which dry vermouth you mix with it, alongside orange curaçao and grenadine.

The citrus, star anise, and coriander notes of Cocchi Extra Dry Vermouth di Torino are particularly lovely in this drink, especially if you use a slightly barrel-aged rum, whose oak spices will play beautifully with the vermouth.

Related: The 10 Best Gins for a French 75, According to Bar Pros

Best vermouth for a Tuxedo No. 2

This combination of gin, absinthe, Luxardo, dry vermouth, and orange bitters is transcendentally delicious. Despite all of those powerful components, the choice of vermouth is more important than you might think.

Go for one that won’t get lost in context, yet that also won’t call too much attention to itself. With its incorporation of an herb called Dittany of Crete, a relative of oregano and excellent alongside the bitter herbal notes of the absinthe, Carpano Dry Vermouth is a solid option.

Best vermouth for a vermouth and Soda

Travel to Spain in the summertime, and you’re likely to see a critical mass of people enjoying a classic vermouth and soda. No wonder: It’s refreshing, cooling, and complex enough to hold your interest yet not so overwhelming that it becomes the focus of attention.

La Copa Extra Seco Vermouth from Gonzalez Byass is based on aged Tio Pepe Fino Sherry and sings with cinnamon, wormwood, and even a bit of raspberry. With a good hit of soda water and a fruit garnish, it’s peak warm weather drinking.

Best vermouth for sipping on its own

Lo-Fi Aperitifs has become a standard bearer of the world of California amari and vermouths. Their dry vermouth balances elderflower lift and gentian root-borne bitterness with precision. It’s outstanding simply poured into a rocks glass with a large ice cube.

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