Got a bottle of vermouth to use up? Here are all the best vermouth cocktails worth making, using both the sweet red and dry white varieties.
Got a bottle of vermouth to use up? We’ve got answers. This fortified wine is extraordinarily popular in mixed drinks: but it always plays second fiddle. Why? It’s there to add body and complexity to cocktails, which it does in spades. It’s perhaps the best supporting actor of the cocktail world.
Here are all the best vermouth cocktails worth trying! Vermouth is part of some of the most famous classic cocktails around, from the Manhattan to the Martini. Here we cover all the classics plus some lesser known vermouth drinks. The list below includes both sweet red and dry white vermouth. Ready to get mixing?
Arguably the best known of all sweet vermouth cocktails is the Manhattan! This sophisticated whiskey drink has a long history and has come back into style. It’s a three ingredient cocktail, but there’s so much going on in one sip! Vanilla, oak and caramel notes from the bourbon, sweet and spicy from the sweet red vermouth, and bitter and herby from the bitters.
And the best known of the dry vermouth cocktails: the Martini! The martini is one of the most iconic cocktails of all time. People have been drinking it for a century. With one sip it announces itself: crisp, cool, searing, and spirit-forward. It’s seeped in tradition, and there’s no cocktail that has the amount of variations: shaken or stirred, gin or vodka, straight or on the rocks.
Here's a drink vying for the best of the best vermouth cocktails award. The Negroni! It’s equal parts refreshing, bitter, and complex: a drink that you’ll want to sit with and savor a while. The bright red of the Campari and sweet vermouth make a stunning jewel-tone statement of a drink. This three ingredient cocktail is easy to make: and memorize, because it uses 1 ounce of each of its three components.
Here’s a light and refreshing classic vermouth cocktail that’s perfect for summer afternoons: the Americano cocktail! It’s the original inspiration for the Negroni and is even better, in our opinion. It’s bitter, complex and bubbly all at once! Starring Campari and sweet vermouth, it’s both sophisticated and carefree at the same time.
Here’s a vermouth cocktail that’s classy and complex: the Martinez! This one is a cousin of the Martini and the Manhattan. To us, it’s an improvement on both! There’s so much going on flavor-wise. It’s balanced and just sweet enough, with notes of cherry and cinnamon, and a little spice at the finish. This cocktail hasn’t caught on in the same way as its cousins: but it absolutely deserves a place at the table.
One of our favorite classic vermouth cocktails in the collection: the Boulevardier. It’s smooth, rich, spicy, bitter, and warm all at once. The vibrant red jewel tone makes it stunning to look at. It’s essentially a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin. The sweetness of the bourbon perfectly balances the flavor. In fact, you might prefer it to the Negroni. Consider it an improvement!
Ingredients: Bourbon whiskey, sweet red vermouth, Campari
Here’s a punchy three-ingredient vermouth cocktail that’s sleek and sippable: the Old Pal! It’s complex and spirit-forward, a unique drink if you love dry cocktails like a Negroni or a Manhattan. The Old Pal pairs bitter Campari with dry vermouth and fiery rye whiskey into a drink that’s dry, bitter and spicy all at once.
If you love a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, it’s safe to say you’ll love this drink too: the Vieux Carre! This unique classic cocktail comes from New Orleans: the name means “French Quarter” in French. It’s strong and alcohol forward, made with not one but two types of bitters. The complex flavor is ideal for whiskey lovers who love to relax with a slow sipper in hand.
Here’s a sophisticated vermouth cocktail that will have all your friends talking about it: the Hanky Panky! It’s complex and nuanced, with a smooth flavor perfect for sipping. The star here is Fernet-Branca, an Italian bitter that adds an herbal punch. The cocktail is perfectly balanced: a little sweet and a little bitter, which makes it irresistible.
Looking for a unique classic cocktail to impress? Try the Bijou! This drink is named for the colors of glittering jewels of the three liquors that make it up. It's been around for over a century, with a spirit-forward flavor that's crisp and herbaceous. Take one sip and you'll be reminded of a Manhattan. But it's even more interesting, with an herbal undertone to the finish. This one is full of surprises: and all your guests will be impressed.
Looking for a unique vermouth cocktail that will impress everyone? Try the Blood and Sand! It’s one of the few classic cocktails with Scotch from the 1920’s and 30’s. It’s similar to a Manhattan or Martinez, but with with blood orange juice and cherry liqueur. It’s light and semi-sweet, with a balanced and cherry-forward flavor. This one will please even people who are on the fence about Scotch.
Ingredients: Scotch, cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, blood orange juice
Types of vermouth
Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning that liquor has been added to stabilize it. Make sure to store vermouth in the refrigerator: it stays good there for up to 3 months. There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). Here’s a bit more about sweet vs dry vermouth:
Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hint of bitter on the finish. It features in many classic cocktails like the Negroni, Americano, and Manhattan.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.