Tag Archives: sweet vermouth

La Quintinye Vermouth Royal

la quintanye vermouth royale

La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is one of several vermouths you may find at your local specialty liquor store. In this particular case, the line is French-produced, by mixing “fresh grape juice and Cognac from a single estate.”

Vermouth, as you know, is an essential ingredient to many classic cocktails, and I have a large summary post about vermouth here at Simple Cocktails.

In the case of La Quintinye (pronounced queen-tin-EE), is available in 3 varieties and I got them in 375 ml bottles ($15 retail). I always try to stick with the smaller bottles since vermouth’s lifespan is relatively short. Here are the flavor profiles of the three:

La Quintinye Extra Dry. Citrousy and sharp, this is your Martini vermouth. It has a little anise flavor, very herbal, and complex. It whets your tastebuds well, just as a good aperitif should.

La Quintinye Rouge. Chocolate and coffee on the nose, it’s peppery and cough-syrup bitter, though still sweet. This is a complex and quality vermouth in a Manhattan or Negroni.

La Quintinye Blanc. A similar herbal scent and flavor profile to Extra Dry, but with a sweet and rounded finish. With less of the sharpness of the Extra Dry, and this is a tasty vermouth to drink on the rocks with a lemon twist or in this Martini variant:

Sweet White Martini

  • in a stirring glass, add:
  • 2 oz unaged Old Tom Gin (I used Brothers)
  • 1 oz La Quintinye Blanc
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon twist


What is Vermouth? (Part 3)

vermouth bottle illustration part 3

Now that we’ve defined vermouth as a fortified, aromitized wine and talked about the different types of vermouth available, in this final installment of “What is Vermouth?”, I’ll give you some vermouth cocktail recipes to try and talk about how to care for your bottles.

As you look at cocktail recipes, pay attention in the cocktail recipe as to which type of vermouth you need – I’ll always specify sweet or dry here, occasionally maybe red or white, but remember that distinction is as important as whiskey or vodka in a drink.

Try these cocktails with your vermouth:

Sweet vermouth:

50-50 Martini

Dry vermouth:

Finally, proper storage of your vermouth is very important. Always store open vermouth bottles in the refrigerator, ideally not more than 1-2 months. Unfortunately, many bars don’t heed to this rule, and their vermouth-based drinks have a bad taste as a result. Because vermouth is made with wine, it has a limited shelf age once it’s opened and will become bitter and sour when spoiled.

I hope this has been a helpful series and that it’s taught you a little more about recognizing, buying, and using vermouth well in your cocktails. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite vermouth-based cocktails, and enjoy!

What is Vermouth? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 or read the whole series in one post here.

For more reading on vermouth, including regional distinctions, please visit our friends at Vermouth 101.

What is Vermouth? (Part 2)

vermouth bottle illustration part 2

In Part 1 of our series “What is Vermouth?”, published earlier this week, we defined vermouth as a fortified, aromitized wine. Today, we’ll give you some information about the different types of vermouth that are available.

As I said previously, there is a big taste difference between cheap and quality vermouth – it’s a good idea to spend as much as you can afford. That being said, though, I regularly buy Noilly Prat or Martini & Rossi vermouth, both tried-and-true and just under $10 a bottle.

More important than the brand, though, is the type of vermouth you buy: sweet or dry. Usually, sweet vermouth is red and dry is white, but occasionally you’ll get a curveball, like Vya Whisper Dry, a slightly sweet (but still dry) white vermouth, or Dolin Blanc, a sweet white vermouth (used in the White Martinez recipe, shown below).

white martinez with hendricks

Unfortunately, the color of the vermouth is not necessarily going to make it easy to differentiate which style you’re buying. As I’ve noted, a white vermouth can be sweet or dry, a red can be syrupy sweet or quite bitter.  Often, the type of vermouth may be printed in Italian or French.

So here is a brief guide to vermouth names, though a better option would be to ask a helpful local liquor store employee for help (which is what I do). Other than the typical dry-white and sweet-red, you might also see: rosso (Italian for red), vermouth amaro (a bitter vermouth, like Punt e Mes), bianco (sweet white), blanc (sweet white), extra dry, rouge (a paler red), rosé (a pink vermouth, think White Zinfandel), or ambre (a copper/orange colored vermouth).

Now that we’ve (hopefully) got the proper vermouth for our home bar, the final step is using it and taking care of it…

What is Vermouth? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 or read the whole series in one post here.

What is Vermouth? (Part 1)

vermouth bottle illustration part 1

I’ve told you that vermouth is one of the first 5 bottles you should buy for your home bar because it’s used in classic cocktails like the Martini and the Manhattan. Most people, however, have no idea what vermouth is, or that some vermouth tastes much better than others. So today, I’ll define vermouth for you and in my next post I’ll tell you what to do with it.

Vermouth is a fortified, aromitized wine. 

Vermouth is wine (red or white) that’s fortified through the addition of hard liquor (usually brandy). Other familiar fortified wines include Port, Sherry, and Madeira. Because they’re fortified, all of these wines are both higher in alcohol content and more “shelf stable” than regular wine – lasting several weeks before they need to be replaced. Vermouth is unique from these other fortified wines, though, because it’s also aromatized with herbs, spices, tree bark, seeds, and sometimes more.

Because of the complexity of vermouth, every element in the bottle affects the taste of the final product. The type of wine, the quality of the brandy fortifying it, and all of the aromatics contribute to the flavor, and the taste can vary greatly as a result. A vermouth can taste sweet, bitter, dry, herbal, cheap, syrupy – it can take on just about any flavor profile that you can imagine.

contratto vermouth

Here on the blog, I’ve covered some really high-quality vermouth, like Contratto (pictured) and Vya, and I’ve also used Trader Joe’s $4 vermouth from time to time, too. As I said in my Contratto post: “the extra money spent on a quality bottle of vermouth makes such a massive difference in the quality of my home cocktails, it’s impossible to ignore the value of it.”

Put simply, a better vermouth tastes better, and if you’ve ever shuddered at the taste of a $5 bottle of vermouth, then try something like Carpano Antica Formula, which will run you more like $30. When you taste them straight or maybe on the rocks like pictured above, the quality difference is very clear.

What is Vermouth? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 or read the whole series in one post here.

Vya Vermouth

vya vermouth

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.

Turf Club

  • 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