I’ve had a tear sheet in one of my notebooks for along time, a recipe for making my own sweet vermouth. I finally got around to trying it, and let me tell you, I will never look back.
I’m partial to the cocktails with sweet vermouth; Manhattans,Negronis and the odd Hanky-Panky. But sadly the Swedish state monopoly on alcohol sales, which I mostly endorse, has little to offer in terms of sweet vermouth. They basically have Martini Rosso on the shelves, on occasion something else, and all the brands I would like (Antica,Punt è met etc.) you have to order specifically and it comes with a price tag. In terms of dry vermouth there is no such problem though; Noilly Prat is always stocked(and I’m happy about that).
I did deviate from the recipe I have(which I think is from the cocktail magazine Hotrumcow), I’m confident in my mixology, but feel free to search online for your own recipe; I had a look and there are several out there. The ingredients are easy enough to find in Stockholm; A trip to Systembolaget for the alcohol, Aeter&essence fabriken(and old fashioned spice shop) for the wormwood and chamomile, the local deli will supply the rest. How things are where you live I have no idea but again; the internet is full of answers.
Homemade sweet vermouth;
750 ml bottle of red wine( nothing fancy is necessary)
0,5 teaspoon wormwood
2 cm vanilla bean, slit open
1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
zest of half a lemon
zest of half an orange
4 whole peppercorns
150 grams brown sugar
60 ml cognac (VSO is fine)
- Put all the ingredients except the cognac in a pot and slowly bring to the boil.
- When boiling,reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the cognac and let infuse for a further 20 minutes.
- When it has cooled, strain and pour into a clean bottle and leave it to to cool in the fridge for approx. 12 hours.
This should always be kept in the fridge and will last 3-5 months. You can add further 25 ml of cognac if you want to keep it longer but it is better to make small batches often.
Now that the vermouth is done, time to make a Negroni. Easy to make, easy to love if you like that mix of sweet and bitter. Campari is not to everyones taste.
Negroni; yields 1 cocktail
3 cl gin
3 cl sweet vermouth
3 cl Campari
orange slice or zest
- Stir the ingredients in a stirring glass until properly chilled.
- Pour into the tumbler with ice and garnish with orange.
The fashion now is for one big ice cube as this will melt slowly and not dilute the cocktail but just keep it chilled. Muji has nice “spheres” for this. It is also easy to make this drink “smaller” as the key to it is the proportions; a third of each ingredient. I sometimes make a really small one for myself using just 1 cl of each.