We take a look at an often misunderstood ingredient behind most bars, Sweet Vermouth!

In a previous post, Mixology Trends 2013, we mentioned that Sweet Vermouth was becoming very popular, and we couldn’t wait for an opportunity to delve deeper into the subject and post some of our own Sweet Vermouth Reviews.

But Don’t All Sweet Vermouths Taste the Same?

Tasting Notes:

1.Carpano Antica Formula

Benedetti Carpano has been credited with creating the category of alcohol known as sweet vermouth. Antica formula is the oldest vermouth in our lineup, dating back to 1786. By far my favorite sweet vermouth to work with behind the bar, and I assure you it’s only pure coincidence that it is also produced by Fernet Branca, one of my favorite spirits on the planet. Antica Formula focuses on :

  • Rich, dense mouth feel
  • Vanilla
  • Cola
  • Toffee
  • Sweet Pipe Tobacco

2. Cocchi Di Torrino

Cocchi has been producing amazing products since 1891, and continue to impress me with every product I try from them. Now for the tasting notes:

  • Molasses
  • Small amount of acidity, but definitely more focused on the sweet element
  • Earthy
  • Cola
  • Leather
  • Cedar
  • Cigar Tobacco
If you are using Lillet blanc to recreate your classic cocktails, try switching it out for Cocchi Aperitivo Americano. Lillet underwent a reformulation in the 1980’s to become more consumer friendly, aka sweeter and less bitter. Try Cocchi Aperitivo Americano in your next Corpse Reviver #2.

3. Martini & Rossi Rosso

Recently celebrating their 150th anniversary, this producer has been making great products since 1863. Martini and Rossi may have been known as a value focused vermouth, but there is a reason they have been around for so long. Try using this vermouth in your next Negroni.

  • Much different from the previous brands that we have tried
  • Decent amount of acidity on the palate that balances the sweetness: Balanced
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sweet herbal notes

4. Vya Sweet Vermouth

One of the newest producers in the market, Vya brought vermouth back to the attention of the average consumer. They have earned numerous awards and have become the become the standard vermouth behind many cocktail bars, and rightly so. As our only American Sweet Vermouth in this tasting, it makes it’s presence known. I would imagine this product was engineered to go with Bourbon and Rye right from the beginning.

  • This Sweet Vermouth is all about the spices
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardammom
  • Dense on the palate, but not as weighty as Antica Formula
  • Bitter

5. Vermouth Perucchi Gran Reserva

Our Spanish entry in to the category. Founded in 1876, this vermouth has a lot of complexity.

  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Raisin
  • Tobacco
  • Fennel
  • Orange peel
  • Hints of Curry- crazy, but I get it every time I try it.

6. Byrrh Quinquina

Technically not a sweet vermouth, but a quinquina, this product can be substituted in for sweet vermouth when a sweeter, richer texture is desired.

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Dried Fruit- think Raisinets
  • Bitter Orange

Other Resources & Reading:

If you are interested in learning more about Vermouth, I would recommend starting at Vermouth101.com. They provide some great information for even the most seasoned bartender. If you would like to know more about its history and  ingredients that are used in making Vermouth, take a look Jared Brown & Anistatia Miller’s The Mixellany Guide to Vermouth & Other Apéritifs. (Affiliate link) as well.

Did I miss one of your favorite Sweet Vermouth’s? Let us know!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.