Vermouth all the way down

IMG_4613While at Tales of the Cocktail, we got to try some of the Carpano white vermouths which we were very excited about as we’re big fans of the Carpano Antica. We ordered some when they were not yet available in WA, though thankfully they are in the stores now.We also recently received some samples of La Quintinya vermouth from France made with Pineau des Charentes which we’re big fans of as well (read our samples policy to understand what it means that we’re talking about the samples). At the same time, we received a sample of Adam Ford’s new book Vermouth: The Revival of the Spirit That Created America’s Cocktail Culture (again, see our samples policy). With this confluence of events, we felt it was time to talk about vermouth some more. 😉

As we’ve discussed in the past, we’re big fans of both sweet and dry vermouth. There’s also a third category of vermouth called Bianco or Blanc depending on which country it comes from. In our experience it usually sits between the two, not dry but not as sweet or heavy as the red.

IMG_4591Carpano Dry

  • Nose: Marshmallow, bright, tannic oak leaves, tart apple, sweet herbal like hyssop or horehound.
  • Palate: Tart apple at the front with  a touch of mild sweetness.Mid-palate is black pepper, sage, thyme, light menthol. Finish really dries out, with flavors of oxidized grape spirit over mineral notes. Nice bitter finish.

Carpano Bianco

  • Nose: Very floral. Lily of the valley, birch bark, and vanilla.
  • Palate: Quite sweet to start, with the floral nose carrying through. Mid-palate remains sweet but has a funky, somewhat dark, earthy undercurrent going on with notes of black cardamom and fenugreek. Sharp, bitter finish with green wormwood notes. Very sweet start and then drys out for Shaun. Remains sweet throughout for Christa but finish is drier.

La Quintinya Vermouth Royal Extra Dry

  • Nose: Rosemary, mint, thyme and honey. Light floral perfume like pinks or dianthus.
  • Palate: Rosemary, sage and thyme over rich oxidized wine. Very dry, not a hint of sweetness. Tiny bit of nuttiness on the finish, which is quite astringent.

La Quintinya Vermouth Royal Blanc

  • Nose: Also fairly floral. Tea rose and lemon peel.
  • Palate: Fairly sweet, though not as bitter or sweet as the Carpano Bianco and more herbaceous. Sweet lemon to start, then thyme, lemon peel, and lemon verbena. Touch of tart acid on the finish vs. the bitter finish of the Carpano Bianco.

IMG_4595White Negroni (Booze Nerds version)

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 1/4 oz Carpano Bianco
  • 1/2 oz Amaro dell’Erborista (which Christa loves. Looooves!)
  • 1 tsp honey (we added some extra sweetness as the cocktail was somewhat dry otherwise and lacked the classic Negroni bitter-sweet balance. We chose honey because this Amaro is sweetened with honey.)

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. Cheers!


  • Nose: Very delicate nose. Lavender, juniper, lemon. Little bit of bitter green herbal like boxwood.
  • Palate: Sweet intro with strong aromatics of lavender, lemon peel, juniper. Mid-palate is an interesting combination of honey and oxidized wine. Starting at the middle of the mid-palate all the way into the finish is really strong herbal bitterness. Finish is earthy with some hints of woody tannins. Celery notes on the beginning of the finish. This is one rollercoaster of a cocktail. 😉

IMG_4613Rapiers at Dawn

  • 1 1/2 oz cachaca
  • 1 1/2 oz La Quintinya dry vermouth
  • 1 tsp Fernet Branca
  • 7-8 drops celery bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with cocktail onions. Enjoy!



  • Nose: Cut grass, fresh pine, celery, thyme, rosemary, pickled onion
  • Palate: Cut grass and toasted rye bread to start. Interesting combination of slightly acidic lemon and wine flavors with the grassy funky notes of the cachaca on the mid-palate. Finish is briny onion with more toasted flavors like caraway and celery seed. Rosemary and thyme at the end of the mid-palate and then as an aftertaste. Very savory cocktail, and very dry too, not a hint of sweetness.

So there you have it. Some new yummy vermouths to try out.

Now about Mr. Ford’s book. It’s a nicely done book with great pictures, and it provides a good mix of history, practical information about vermouth, recipes, and information about US vermouths which are often overlooked. If you’re interested in any of those things (and who wouldn’t be?) we recommend picking up a copy.

Vermouth is often associated with bad martinis and that’s a damn shame, because there are lots of lovingly made ones out there now that deserve to be treated as 1st class cocktail ingredients. Go out and find some and make some delicious drinks with them now. Seriously, there’s never been a better time to be a vermouth cocktail aficionado. Until next time, cheers!




This entry was posted in amaro, bianco vermouth, Booze Review, cachaca, celery bitters, dry vermouth, fernet, gin, honey, Tasting Notes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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