Cocktail Kingdom Library (home)

Vermouth Cocktail

vermouth (Italian, usually), gum syrup, bitters (and sometimes maraschino liqueur or other additions)

Somehow, in the late 1860s, the inscrutable ethnic specialty that is vermouth began to fascinate the American bar. Logically, the first application of this “strong wine” was as the direct substitute for the spirits in the established cocktail template. This drink is the beginning of the cocktail [americano] meta category. Soon, the vermouth would be sharing the space with the spirits in the Manhattan, Martini, and countless similar drinks. Eventually, these concepts would be reinterpreted in the homeland of Vermouth—Italy—as the Americano.

The recipe shown above, from The Modern Bartender’s Guide (1884), is representative, following the “Fancy Cocktail” template.

Vermouth Cocktail

Combine in a mixing glass:

  • 1 bar spoons gum syrup or simple syrup
  • 1–2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 1–2 dashes maraschino liqueur
  • 2 oz sweet vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist

Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, p. 751–2; barware icons courtesy of Haus Alpenz