Vermouth is one of the first bottles you need to buy when you’re outfitting your home bar. A fortified wine that’s seeped with herbs, vermouth is higher-alcohol than wine and more shelf-stable. It’ll keep for weeks (sometimes months) in the fridge as opposed to wine which spoils within days.
Bottled in Madera, California, Vya Vermouth can be found for $15-20 a bottle. I’ll admit that I usually cheap out when it comes to vermouth, buying the $4 bottles at Trader Joe’s and I’ve thought that was good enough. As soon as I tasted Vya, though, I discovered that I was wrong. The cheaper vermouths are overly bitter and sometimes sour. Vya is softer, smooth, mild, and well-spiced.
Vya Extra Dry is a traditional martini vermouth. This version is acidic and floral, with the flavor balanced somewhere between fresh Italian herbs (like basil) and citrus. It makes a tasty martini and Vya complements the gin well as opposed to the cheap vermouths I’ve been using, which have been making my martinis harsh and sour.
Vya Whisper Dry is a unique vermouth that Vya has created, both less acidic and less herbal than Extra Dry. Whisper Dry is milder and fruitier and the flavor is more similar to white wine than a typical vermouth. Mix this vermouth with a high-quality vodka for a subtle, sweeter martini. I think this is the best Vya to drink by itself, on the rocks before dinner.
Vya Sweet is the vermouth you should use in a Manhattan cocktail or the Turf Club (below). This has a sweet red wine flavor, sure, but there’s also some cloves and cinnamon mixed in there to offset the sweetness. I could almost see this warmed on the stove for Christmas, it’s a really pleasant sweet/spice combination.
- 1 1/5 oz of Old Tom gin (I used Tanqueray Malacca)
- 1 1/5 sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes of bitters
- stir and strain into a cocktail glass
- lemon peel garnish