Skip to main content

4 incredible vermouth cocktails you’re missing out on

Vermouth cocktails to try at home

Timothé Durand/Unsplash

We often talk about the main spirit being the most important aspect of a cocktail. This means that while bourbon, dark rum, tequila, or gin gets all the press, the other ingredients get the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. And while bitters are referred to as the “salt and pepper” of the cocktail world, we believe that (depending on the cocktail) vermouth might be just as important.

What’s a Martini without vermouth? Well, it’s pretty much just a boozy glass of gin (or vodka if you’re into that sort of thing). It’s not a Boulevardier without the vermouth; you might as well just make an Old Fashioned instead if your Manhattan is sans vermouth.

Michael Odelberth/Unsplash

What is vermouth?

We’ve all seen vermouth listed as an ingredient in our favorite cocktails. We might even have a bottle at home. We also might not even know what it is. Well, for those unaware, vermouth is not a spirit. This important ingredient in many classic and contemporary cocktails is a fortified wine. It’s not just boozy grape juice, though. It’s infused with various herbs, botanicals, roots, and other ingredients to give it its timeless flavor. Sometimes, it’s sweetened as well.

Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash

The different vermouths

Not all vermouth is the same. There are a handful of different types of vermouth, each with a specific flavor profile suited for certain drinks. Dry vermouth, while allowed to have as much as 50 grams of sugar per liter, is usually produced with very little sugar, if any. It has more of an herbal quality than other vermouths.

Popular among bartenders, Blanc vermouth is known for its semi-sweet, almost vanilla or honey-like flavor. If Blanc vermouth is in the middle of the spectrum, Sweet vermouth is on a completely different side. Known for its red color, it’s sweet, sugary, and fruity; It’s the vermouth you’ll find in a Manhattan or Negroni.

Ambitious Studio* - Rick Barrett / Unsplash

Vermouth in cocktails

When it comes to cocktailing, having a bottle or two of vermouth on hand is a necessity. Simply put, you can’t make a handful of classic cocktails without it. It pairs perfectly with a variety of ingredients to create an explosion of flavor. The Negroni, with its bittersweet Campari, needs the sugary sweetness of sweet red vermouth to balance everything out. The same goes for countless other drinks.

Thomas Franke/Unsplash

4 incredible vermouth cocktails

Now that you have learned a little bit about what vermouth is and why it’s one of the most important tools a bartender can wield, it’s time to actually drink some cocktails featuring this memorable fortified wine. Keep scrolling to find 4 incredible vermouth-centric cocktails that you should immediately add to your repertoire.

OurWhisky Foundation/Unsplash

Hanky Panky

The Hanky Panky might not have the name recognition of some classic cocktails, but it’s been around for over 100 years. The drink, an Italian bitter liqueur take on the Martinez, consists of gin, Fernet-Branca, and sweet vermouth. There’s no mystery about this drink’s genesis. It was created by Ada “Coley” Coleman, the head bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1903. This drink is semi-sweet and highly flavorful thanks to the aforementioned sweet vermouth, gin and Fernet.

Mezcal Negroni
Marvin Meyer/Unsplash


This isn’t your favorite cup of black coffee. No, this cocktail is as simple as it gets. It’s literally just Campari, vermouth, and soda water (a slice of lemon adds flavor as well). That’s it. It’s like you were going to make a Negroni and then realized you didn’t have any gin on hand and made it anyway. The popular Italian cocktail was invented sometime in the 1860s at Milan’s Caffè Campari by bartender and owner Gaspare Campari. It’s simple, elegant, and highly flavorful.

Allan Francis / Unsplash


A relative of the Americano, the Negroni is simply an Americano with the addition of gin—sweet vermouth and Campari round out the semi-sweet, highly memorable flavor profile. As legend goes, this drink originated in 1919 when a man named Count Camillo Negroni (yes, really) ordered an Americano at Florance, Italy’s Caffè Casoni, and asked for gin to be added to the recipe instead of soda water.

Old Pal
Melissa Zikos/Unsplash

Old Pal

While it’s clear that gin plays nice with vermouth, many timeless cocktails let you in on that fact. You might be surprised to learn that so does rye whiskey. A great example is the Old Pal, which is made with equal parts rye whiskey vermouth and Campari; this drink is very similar to the classic Boulevardier. Harry MacElhone created it at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1930s.

Edgar Chaparro/Unsplash

Picking the right vermouth for you

Don’t just buy the first bottle of vermouth you see. Understand whether you need dry, sweet, or blanc vermouth for your recipe, and then buy a bottle accordingly. Don’t go cheap on it, either. Vermouth is an important flavor component of many cocktails. You wouldn’t want to ruin your drink with cheap vermouth.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
The Gold Rush cocktail is perfect for all seasons
Get to know the Gold Rush cockail
Gold Rush cocktail

There’s no wrong time of year for a classic whiskey-based cocktail. Winter, spring, summer, and fall, we love whiskey drinks during them all. We love the Manhattan, Boulevardier, Sazerac, Old Fashioned, and everything in between. But while we love historic drinks, we also enjoy the contemporary mixed drinks that have elevated cocktail culture.

One of our favorite contemporary drinks is the Gold Rush. It’s not just that it’s delicious on a warm summer night or in the depths of frigid winter; it’s also surprisingly simple to make. It’s a take on the classic whiskey sour with one ingredient swapped out for another.

Read more
4 simple tequila drinks anyone can (and should) make
Easy tequila drinks to add to your home bar list

Tequila is a very versatile spirit. Whether it’s blanco (also known as silver or plata), cristalino, joven, reposado, añejo, or extra añejo, this Blue Weber agave-based spirit is suited for slow sipping neat or on the rocks. It’s also a great base for some of the most beloved cocktails ever made.

While there are differing aromas and flavors based on the various ages and techniques, tequila is well known for its mix of roasted agave, vanilla, tropical fruit, caramel, and light spice notes. These flavors work well in cocktails featuring fresh citrus, herbs, and other ingredients.

Read more
How to make a mudslide: your new dessert cocktail go-to
Who doesn't love a dessert cocktail?

In the world of mixed drinks, the dessert cocktail doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Maybe it’s because it’s boozy, sweet, and sometimes borderline indulgent. It’s not the kind of drink you’ll just whip up on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. But it is a great drink genre for a special occasion or after a heavy meal.

We’re talking about drinks like the Grasshopper, White Russian, Espresso Martini, and the Mudslide. And while we could go into length explaining the intricacies of every one of the cocktails we just mentioned, today we’re most concerned with the Mudslide.
What is a Mudslide?

Read more