There is no better way to celebrate Negroni Week than with the namesake cocktail but you’re not going to get very far if you don’t have a good Vermouth.
Vermouth is one of those ingredients that is traditional yet timeless, and while you might not think it is something that you could make at home, making it from scratch gives you the chance to impart a personal stamp.
There are of course a couple of things that you should always keep in mind when creating a vermouth at home. The first of these is the quality of the ingredients. While we will always be the first to say that you should use the best and freshest ingredients you can for anything you make, this does not mean that your wine needs to be unnecessarily expensive.
With so many botanicals, making vermouth is a little like making wine tea, so the wine certainly doesn’t need to be exceptional. What it does need to be though is a wine you like. Although the botanical will cover up a lot, you will still be able to taste the wine, so you might as well use something you’ll enjoy.
While most vermouths are made with white wine, we are trying to recreate a rouge, so we thought we would go with red in the Italian tradition.
Another thing to think about is the botanicals and herbs. While using small amounts of these ingredients may seem tedious, to put together, you are only making a small batch and larger amounts would ultimately overwhelm both the wine and your taste buds.
These last few points are pretty important for the overall taste – be careful with the amount of bittering agent (wormwood and gentian) as both are fairly potent and don’t skip the brandy, as otherwise you will be left with just a spiked wine.
Always be aware that he recipe can easily be adjusted to your own taste, from the quantity of the aromatics to the sweetness in the simple syrup.
And if you remember nothing else from this article, then for the love of all that is holy, remember to put your vermouth (or any vermouth) IN THE FRIDGE
Now, this recipe has a lot of ingredients, so if you’re going to give it a try, buckle up, it’s going to be a long shopping list …
- ½ teaspoon wormwood
- A pinch gentian root (equal to about 0.04 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 fresh sage leaf
- A pinch angelica root
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 sections star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ vanilla bean
- Peels of 2 oranges
- Peels of 1 lemon
- 1 bottle dry red wine (we recommend Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)
- 1 cup brandy
- 1 cup Demerara sugar
To make the Vermouth Base
Combine wormwood, gentian, thyme, sage, angelica root, black peppercorns, lemon zest and star anise on cheesecloth and tie it together to make a bundle that the smaller pieces won’t fall out of.
In a large stockpot, add cheesecloth bundle, cinnamon, vanilla bean, orange peels, lemon peels and wine. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Pour into a container and chill overnight before straining into the bottle.
To make the Brandy Simple Syrup
In a small saucepan, combine brandy and sugar. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, then cut off the flame. Let cool. Add ¼ cup brandy simple syrup to strained vermouth. Again, keep refrigerated.