While a simple rum and coke might cut it at a tailgate, chances are you're looking for something a bit more sophisticated when hosting a dinner party or holiday get-together. Sophisticated doesn't have to mean labor-intensive and complicated, though. In fact, all it takes is keeping your bar cart stocked with one extra ingredient that can be used in a variety of cocktail recipes for a simple but noticeably elevated drink. What's the secret ingredient? Vermouth.
Vermouth refers to a broad range of liqueurs, usually broken down into three categories: dry, sweet, and blanc. Dry vermouth is tart and herbaceous while sweet vermouth is rich and spiced, and blanc is sort of a combination of the two, with slightly citrusy flavors. It's made from 75% wine, grape juice, and alcohol. Fun fact: The Coca-Cola recipe is a nonalcoholic derivative of vermouth. Vermouth ranges from 16% to 22% ABV.
While this liqueur may sound like an unnecessary extra, it's actually considered essential in most classic cocktails, from Manhattans to martinis and negronis to Americanos. Learn the best ways to use vermouth for a deceivingly easy yet elegant cocktail below.
Americanos are some of the simplest cocktails to make, yet there's just something sophisticated about them. All it takes is a little Campari, sweet vermouth, seltzer water, and an orange slice. It's easy enough, but this Salt and Wind recipe will ensure that you get it right if you're not a seasoned mixologist.
Classic Negroni Sbagliato
Similar to an Americano, negronis are notoriously boozy, so if you like your cocktails strong, flavorful, and moody, this Salt and Wind recipe is for you. It's slightly lighter than the classic version (there's a more indulgent option coming up next, don't worry). You'll need sparkling wine, sweet vermouth, Campari, and an orange twist.
Death Eater Negroni
This unique cocktail recipe from Half Baked Harvest is the perfect thing to make when the sun starts going down earlier. It's made with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, and pomegranate juice for a boozy but balanced taste. You can also add some activated charcoal for a moody aesthetic and then add an orange peel and pomegranate arils for garnish.
Citrus Vodka Martini
Speaking of easy but sophisticated cocktails, you'll never go wrong with a vodka martini. This one from Salt and Wind also has some citrus flavors, which makes it a bit more unique and refreshing. All you need is some citrus vodka, dry vermouth, orange peels, and an olive.
Rhubarb and Fennel Cocktail
For something a bit more light and fresh, try this cocktail recipe from Honestly Yum. It's a bit more labor-intensive if you want to make the rhubarb fennel syrup from scratch (but it's definitely worth it for a special occasion). It's made with a dry vermouth, lemon juice, gin, and a pinch salt, with rhubarb ribbon and fennel frond for garnish.
The Man O' War Cocktail
Here's another photogenic vermouth cocktail recipe from Salt and Wind, and the best news is that it only takes five minutes to put together. Complete with sweet vermouth, an orange liqueur, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and bourbon, it's the perfect thing to warm up on a cold winter evening. If you're entertaining or feel like being fancy, add the brandied cherries and a lemon peel for garnish.
Festive and fruity, this delightfully spiced cocktail recipe from Honestly Yum will hit the spot for the holiday season and beyond. The St. Germain elderflower liqueur, pear eau de vie, cinnamon, and homemade pear foam make it delightfully zesty while the lemon juice and dry vermouth give it a nice, fresh balance.