A taste for aperitifs and digestifs has seemingly swept the country. First it was amaro, spurring a trend of creative, bitter-leaning cocktails and a general revival of the category. Now, vermouth is also swelling in popularity. An equally herbaceous sipper, both new and established American producers are crafting exciting, botanical and finessed versions that are worth trying. Here are four favorites.
Balsam Gold Private Reserve Vermouth
Best known for its amaro, Balsam Spirits also offers a line of vermouths, all of which are well suited to cocktails. This bottling is perhaps the most notable. Made from a base of ice wine, its lively ginger and orange-blossom flavors are lovely when lightened up with a little Prosecco.
Channing Daughters VerVino Vermouth Variation 6
Produced by Channing Daughters’ Winery in Long Island, New York, each variation of VerVino is created with up to 40 locally grown ingredients and possesses a unique character meant to impart the feel of a particular season. This, made primarily from Petit Verdot, is evocative of autumn. As is common for the category, a complete ingredient list is not revealed. The label does offer some hints, however, set over an image of apples, Asian pears, borage and other botanicals.
Distefano Winery Poppi Dry Vermouth
One of the first vermouths produced in Washington State, Poppi is available in sweet, bittersweet and dry variations. The latter, made from Sauvignon Blanc, is a standout, which sports crisp lemon, a pop of salinity and a delightful effervescence. Initially created for classic cocktails, this works equally well on its own or with some sparkling water and a slice of citrus.
Matthiasson No. 3 Napa Valley Sweet Vermouth
This sweet offering is made from the Flora grape, an obscure cross between Gewürztraminer and Sémillon. A blend of two vintages, each year’s fruit is picked late and whole-cluster fermented before being fortified and infused with homegrown sour cherries and blood oranges. Cardoons and other botanicals are used to bitter the beverage. The result is an amber-honeyed bottling distinguished by a sweet nuttiness and full, candied orange-peel flavor.