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slkinsey

Vermouth

251 posts in this topic

Rats, I was trying to be funny not chauvanistic.

If cheapness is your first concern, you could always make your own.

Hey, I was trying to be funny too! Cheapness is not my first concern, but twenty bucks or so is an awful lot to pay for a bottle of vermouth, especially since I find Noilly Prat completely acceptable for both martini and cooking purposes (my only uses for vermouth, usually) and it costs me eight dollars for a litre. My real concern was the supposed differences between Noilly Prat found in the US and that found in France, but I guess no one has any information on that.

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The article says:

Of all the aperitifs, vermouths vary the most in quality. Before subjecting a garden full of friends to any one brand, taste it first and make sure it's good enough to serve on its own. Noilly Prat is dependable. It can even be sublime if you've picked up a bottle while visiting France. It is made differently there, and flaunts a more assertive and complex personality than its blander American counterpart.

This seems to imply that Noilly Prat produces vermouth for the American market in America. I'd be interested to know where she got her information. As well as I can recall, bottles of Noilly Pratt say "Product of France" on the side. I would be shocked to learn that there is really a difference between Noilly Prat manufactured for the US and the Noilly Prat manufactured for France and Europe. Here is some good information on the process, for those who are interested.

As for The Hersh's thoughts on more expensive vermouths (i.e., Vya). . . I think you'll find that if you try Vya you'll see that it's good for a whole lot more than just Martinis and cooking. Indeed, I would consider using Vya for cooking somewhat of a waste. Vya on the rocks with a twist, on the other hand, is a great drink. I also enjoy "Reverse Martinis" with Vya.

In other news, the Noilly Prat web site has a link to a nice article about vermouth and Audrey Saunders:

Audrey Saunders . . . has chosen as her house aperitif the Eve, a soft infusion of McIntosh apples and soft Noilly Prat dry vermouth . . . softening the distinctive qualities of each ingredient into a taste at once familiar and utterly fresh."

I've tried the infused vermouth, and it's really nice.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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As far as I know, Melissa Clark got her information right from the source, at the Noilly Prat factory (winery? distillery? aperitifery?). And I know for a fact that there is another, darker, longer-aged NP available in France, because I have some of it in my refrigerator. It's much closer to Vya than the regular NP, although I haven't done a side-by-side tasting (no Vya left, and I, too, balk at paying upwards of $20 for vermouth when the $8 NP we get is beyond adequate--although the Vya is a lovely vermouth).

I don't believe this NP-extra, or whatever it's called (I don't have a bottle, just some of the liquid) is the standard stuff one gets in France; it's some kind of factory special/extra, etc. When Melissa is back in town I'll ask her about it. I was in France a few weeks ago, and the NP I bought at the supermarket in Cognac and mixed Gotham Cocktails with appeared to be identical to the stuff we get here.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I bought a bottle of the dry Vya to see what all the fuss was about, and I'm not particularly keen about the strong cassia taste. Anyone else notice this? I'd be curious to know if the fancy NP has that same taste. What I like about NP is the salty, bitter quality, in addition to the aromatics. I found the Vya didn't have that at all, and tasted sweeter on my tongue, but it could just be from the "sweet" spices.

I have my bottle of Vya at room temp., I go through vermouth fast enough I don't keep it in the fridge. But the cork pops rather disturbingly when I open it. That makes me wonder if I should try to find space to put it in the fridge. Anyone else notice this?

regards,

trillium

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A friend of mine who is a Brit (London) and lives here in NYC told me the Noilly Prat he is used to in England is very different and stronger than the version sold here.

also

I am a bit suprised that no one mentioned Boissiere which is my favorite Vermouth.

(it is not quite as available as some other brands but it is around--here in NYC area.)

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As well as I can recall, bottles of Noilly Pratt say "Product of France" on the side.

Yes. Actually, they say both "Product of France" AND "Produit de France" on the bottle. But thanks to all who have weighed in. So there's a "regular" and a "super-duper" NP in France? I'll have to check that out next time I'm over there. I don't know if I'd be up for using up my alcohol allowance bringing vermouth back, though.

As to Vya, if it really tastes strongly of cassia, I'm pretty sure I won't like it, although I'll keep an open mind until I finally taste it.

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Anyway, if the French are screwing us by sending watered down vermouth, stick it to them, and buy American.

Most of the famous vermouth manufacturers nowadays seem to be relying more on their 200 year old reputations, low low prices, and the fact that they are used by the dash in mixed drinks more than anything good about their products.

Martini at least is becoming more honest about how their vermouth is made. They're still talking about it in a round about way, but if I understand correctly, Martini & Rossi is now made as a compound vermouth, made by adding extracts to filtered wine sweetened with sugar and fortified with neutral spirits, which is then combined, chill-filtered, and bottled.

Noilly Pratt seems to imply that its production methods are different, which makes the fact that it is no better slightly mystifying.

They start with a blend of two wines, a flabby, high alcohol one that madierizes quickly, and a tart, thin one which if blended properly into the former, and aged correctly, produces a relatively neutral, high-alcohol madierized wine. It is then fortified and sweetened with mistelle, and raspberry and lemon flavoring extracts are added to bolster the wine a bit. Then, supposedly real botanicals are macerated in the wine for three weeks (although "botanicals" seems to be a very all-encompassing word, as caramel is added to their sweet vermouth somewhere along the line), then the botanicals are filtered out, the wine is rested, chill filtered, and bottled.

Besides a little cheating with the raspberry and lemon flavorings, all seems quite reasonable. I *want* to like Noilly Pratt vermouth, but for some reason they're making it very difficult for me to do so. Every couple of months or so after the last wretched bottle, I'll buy another, hoping the last 1, 3, 5 bottles have been flukes. So far I've been terribly disappointed.

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Call me a dope, but I actually like both Noilly Prat (white, of course) and Martini and Rossi (red). In fact, I prefer them both to their Vya equivalents for everyday use, which I define as in Martinis and Manhattans. I like the way the NP's dry nuttiness blends with gin without dominating it, even when mixed in equal parts (my favorite Martini these days--don't forget the dash of orange bitters). Similarly, the M&R's rounded sweetness mixes well with rye without masking it (I like 2 parts rye to slightly less than 1 part vermouth, with Angostura bitters or, for special occasions, Abbott's bitters).

Drunk on their own, I agree completely that neither is anything special; I'll take the Vya white or the Carpano red any day. But seeing as I probably drink 50 Martinis or Manhattans for every straight aperitif I'll have, it's almost a moot point for me.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I like Noilly Prat, too. Although I think I slightly prefer Cinzano over M&R for the sweet/red style. I especially like that they're inexpensive enough to have around for guilt-free cooking purposes. The Vya products, which I love, have so much more flavor than the usual vermouths on the market that you really do have to scale the recipe accordingly. Whereas you get a good balance of gin flavor to vermouth flavor in a 1:1 Tanqueray-to-Noilly Prat Martini, I might go more 2:1 or 5:2 for a similar effect with Vya.

Do we consider Punt e Mes a vermouth? It's kind of right there between vermouth and amaro. Anyway, I've really been liking a Brooklyn-inspired cocktail they make at Milk & Honey called the Red Hook, made with rye, maraschino and Punt e Mes.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I actually prefer the Cinzano with bourbon Manhattans and the M&R with rye--the Cinzano has an extra spiciness that tweaks the bourbon up to a little more life.

And I also like the Boissiere dry vermouth quite a bit; the one I really dislike is the M&R, which is increasingly more common.

Off to the country now, where I will be drinking...well, i'll have to see what I can find in rural Pennsylvania. Beer.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Anyway, I've really been liking a Brooklyn-inspired cocktail they make at Milk & Honey called the Red Hook, made with rye, maraschino and Punt e Mes.

That sounds wonderful! Can you share a recipe? How do you think it would work with bourbon?


KathyM

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I know just how much you're enjoying this one, Sam; it's been a favorite of mine for a couple of years now. I'm a very big fan of Enzo's; I think he's one of the best bartenders out there...a real artist:

Red Hook (By Enzo Errico)

½ oz. Punt e Mes

½ oz. Maraschino

2 oz. Rye

Stir / strain / up

Glass: Small Cocktail

Also, next time you're in there, ask him to make you an Enzoni.... :wub:

Audrey

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I have to admit, I rarely venture into this part of the forums. That is a little odd since I enjoy my drink and I have a modest bar in one corner of my house that I visit a couple of times a week. Anyways, everytime I actually do check these pages out I learn something new or I am inspired to try something new (recently I learned about that cucumber flavored Gin, what's it called?...:smile:).

Now this amazing thread! I had no idea how nuanced Vermouth can be. Like most, I use it for martinis and for cooking, usually it is N. Prat. After reading this thread I learned that I should keep this beverage in the fridge! Now, both the dry and the red ones are in my refrigerator. I also got inspired to use my vermouth and I had some nice sweet fresh white peaches on hand. So, a quick chop and a blend in the blender with some vanilla sugar resulted in a smooth great tasting puree. I put some of it in a glass, added crushed ice, a few ounces of vermouth and about 1/4 of that Grey Goose. Stir and serve. It was pretty damn good.

Are there any rules of thumb as to what beverages should be refrigerated Vs. not? Maybe this is a topic for another thread...

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Dang, I was looking forward to weighing in, then everyone else said everything I was going to. Boissiere is the best dry vermouth I've tried, but NP is the best one I can get in half bottles, so it's the one I buy, because it turns before I can finish it. I have Vya sweet but haven't had occasion to get the dry yet, though you can bet I'm going to now. In my experience dry isn't good for more than a month or two, even refrigerated, but I've never noticed sweet turning bad at all.

--

Ben

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I only rarely have multiple brands of vermouth on hand simultaneously, but last night I found myself with Noilly Prat, Boissiere, and Gallo (all dry, white). I bought the Boissiere the other day, prompted by some of the praise it's received here lately. I used to buy it all the time, and didn't really remember why I switched to Noilly Prat as my standard brand. So anyway, I did a side-by-side taste comparison (not blind), and here's my opinion: Boissiere has more botanical character than Noilly Prat, but it's also much sweeter. It was, indeed, easily the sweetest of the three. Gallo has the least botanical accents (hardly any, really, compared with Boissiere), but a clean, fresh, straightforward style that I think makes it very well suited to cooking, and the price is certainly right. Noilly Prat is more subdued in the botanical department than Boissiere, but, again, much drier. And it does have some nice floral notes. I think it will remain my preferred vermouth for Martinis, at least until I try Vya.

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No point of using it if you only use a few drops at a time, my friend.  I think you'll find, however, that a Martini is much better in the 4:1 to 6:1 range (I'll even go 3:1 with a good vermouth and a flavorful gin).

My preference is about 5:1 or 6:1. After that, I can't really notice the taste...and I do like the flavor the vermouth imparts.

I do 5:1, Bombay to Pratt, and no one has ever complained.

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There was a bit of a discussion of vermouths in the Rye thread which reminded me, of something I've been meaning to ask, does anyone know if the Duckhorn King Eider vermouth is still made?

I will drop the folks at Duckhorn a note and see what I can find out.

RE: Vya dry

Probably up to a 1:1 Plymouth/Noilly Martini would still be recognized as a Plymouth Martini.

With the Vya, I find, if you aren't careful, a Martini made with it, very quickly becomes a Vya Martini instead of a gin Martini.


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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. . . does anyone know if the Duckhorn King Eider vermouth is still made?

Last information I had, the answer was "no."

RE:  Vya dry

Probably up to a 1:1 Plymouth/Noilly Martini would still be recognized as a Plymouth Martini.

With the Vya, I find, if you aren't careful, a Martini made with it, very quickly becomes a Vya Martini instead of a gin Martini.

Vya is so strongly flavored that it usually doesn't work so well at 1:1. You're right that is would come out as a Vya Martini. I've made a 1:1 Martini with Vya and Malacca that worked pretty well, but Malacca is a very strongly flavored gin and even then I would have wanted a little bit more gin to come through. At 1:1 Vya would completely obscure something soft like Plymouth. 2:1 would probably be the way to go.

On the other hand, reverse Martinis at 1:2 with Vya and something like Tanqueray work great.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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. . . does anyone know if the Duckhorn King Eider vermouth is still made?

Last information I had, the answer was "no."

I did hear back from a Duckhorn representative confirming they no longer make King Eider vermouth.

However, I can't quite believe my luck. I visited a new grocery store this afternoon for the first time and what dusty bottle did I spy on the shelf?

eider.jpg


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Vya ($20) is considerably more expensive than Boissere ($6). Do you think the difference is justified?

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Vya ($20) is considerably more expensive than Boissere ($6). Do you think the difference is justified?

With the sweet Vya, yes.


Edited by mbanu (log)

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I haven't had Boissiere vermouth and have only had the dry Vya so far, so really can't compare that specific example.

I think the dry is more interesting enough than Noilly Pratt to justify its purchase if you are really into Martinis or are running a high end drinking establishment. On the other hand, it's different enough from the stock dry vermouths, that I don't think it can really be subbed in to any old cocktail that calls for white vermouth and produce predictable results. I expect a perfect Vya manhattan would be quite different from a perfect Noilly manhattan, for better or worse.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Vya ($20) is considerably more expensive than Boissere ($6). Do you think the difference is justified?

Vya is so good you really should try it for yourself and decide whether it's worth the premium. Me, I'd get the Vya (even though, like I said upthread, I like Boissiere a lot) because for whatever reason I don't mind paying a premium on things I go through relatively slowly.

The dry, that is. Haven't had the sweet Boissiere.

--

Ben

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I just did a side-by-side with Boissiere Dry and Noilly Prat Dry. Noilly has a clean, sharp, somewhat citrus-like taste while Boissiere has a full-on herbal body with a peppery finish. I prefer Boissiere, especially for martinis. Too bad I have to go to Houston to buy it.

In a pinch, one can substitute dry vermouth with white wine and bitters, right? Someone left a huge bottle of Monkey Bay (or some other macro brand) chardonnay at my house and I've been experimenting with using that with Angostura.

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I was hanging out with the Quady winemaker a few weeks ago (drinking Absinthe, actually!). Quady is the maker of Vya and one of their selling techniques is a shot of sweet and a shot of dry Vya, shaken, served with a twist of grapefruit. They call it a French Kiss and I found it quite delightful (bringing home several bottles....)

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