Don’t have this fortified wine on hand? Here’s the best dry and sweet vermouth substitute to use in cocktails and beyond.

Vermouth Substitute

Making a cocktail that calls for vermouth and don’t have it? Don’t worry, there are few options that are perfectly suited as a substitution. Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning that liquor has been added to the wine to stabilize it. 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 NegroniAmericano, and Manhattan.
  • Dry vermouth: Dry white vermouth has a crisp dry flavor. It’s used in martinis, like the Classic Martini and Dirty Martini.

Don’t have it on hand? You’re in luck: there are several options for a great vermouth substitute that are easy to find. Below we’ve separated our recommendations based on dry and sweet vermouth.

Best sweet vermouth substitute

1. Dry red wine (& simple syrup)

The best sweet vermouth substitute? Dry red wine, with a touch of simple syrup. If you’ve got a bottle around, a dry red captures those bitter notes that are classic in a sweet vermouth. Add simple syrup to taste, then use it as a 1:1 replacement.

2. Sweet red wine

Another sweet vermouth substitute? Sweet red wine. A sweet red has a bit more of the sweet notes than a sweet vermouth, but it works in a pinch! Use it as a 1:1 replacement.

3. Amaro

A final sweet vermouth substitute? Any type of Amaro, a family of Italian herbal liqueurs that taste bitter (amaro means bitter in Italian). It encompasses a wide range of spirits: the most famous being ultra-bitter Campari and sweet Aperol, neither of which we’d recommend here. But there are so many different varieties in between: try a dark, sweet Meletti or Amaro Tosolini.

Best dry vermouth substitute

1. Dry white wine

The best dry vermouth substitute? Dry white wine. Any variety of dry white is a great match for flavor, though dry vermouth is a little less punchy in its flavor. It works in a martini: but you’ll want the driest wine possible.

2. Lillet Blanc

Another great dry vermouth substitute? Lillet Blanc. Lillet (pronounced “Li-lay”) is a French aperitif: a fortified wine that’s flavored with herbs and citrus. There are are several types of Lillet made of different wines: Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rosé and Lillet Rouge. We regularly stock Lillet Blanc: it’s lightly sweet with subtle floral and herbal notes. You can use it in other cocktails like a Vesper Martini, Lillet G&T or Lillet Spritz.

3. Sake

A final dry vermouth substitute? Sake. If you happen to have sake around, its dry flavor does have similar characteristics to a dry vermouth. (Have some left over? Try our Sake Southside Cocktail.)

And that’s it! Let us know how it goes in the comments below.

Here are some vermouth cocktails to try.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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