Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vermouth: Your recovery drink after eating heavy food over the holidays

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

You’ve supped and you’ve sated over the holidays and you’re feeling rather full.  Why not look to history and learn a bit from our ancestors.  How did they recover after eating heavy food?  And what did they do to stimulate their appetite if they were feeling less then enthusiastic about food and drink?  

The answer my friends is Vermouth.  Vermouth is a wine based product that  is delightful as both aperitif and digestive after a good meal.  Let’s first look to history.   Vermouth historically was used for all manners of illnesses and afflictions.  It was originally used to repel fleas and ticks from the scalp though the use aromatic herbs.  

Vermouth is an aromatized wine.  This means the wine has been infused with botanicals, herbs and spices. Some of these botanicals include wormwood.  Vermouth may have been called wormwood wine at one time.  There are many different historically relevant brands of Vermouth that exist to the present day.  

Here are a few sold at DrinkUpNY that I love with some tasting notes.

Carpano Antica.   With a mouth coating flavor profile of dewy stone fruits plucked fresh from the tree dipped in raw honey with deeper aromatics of mountain herbs and spices enrobed in sweet chocolate, Carpano is my favorite of the Euro-Centric Vermouths.  It is especially delicious served over one cube of hand cut ice with a lemon zest.  In one word, sophisticated.   I saw it all over Italy.  

Punt e Mes.  Dripping with sweet and bitter flavors, this venerable brand of Vermouth is
perfectly at home with a splash of grapefruit soda or if you must, with your choice of Gin and Campari.  Punt e Mes is resplendent and lush alone in a snifter, yet vivacious with nothing more than a splash of seltzer.  I like to take a chunk of charred orange and muddle this into the base of a rocks glass for spark.

Dolin, both the white and the dark are masterful with nothing more than a crumbled sage leaf and a lemon zest in a glass.  Starkly aromatic and dry as a bone- in the white version- and restrained, yet lively and pure in the red, Dolin is charming Vermouth.  She calls out for a smile, a nod and a wink from the other bottles on the shelf.  Dolin is striking and wears her age well.  Dolin drinks like your cool aunt who smoked her own hand rolled cigarettes. 

Boissiere Extra Dry Vermouth comprised of a blend of herbs and bitter orange is marvelous as an aperitif to compliment food.  I love to prepare a composed salad of orange segments, basil, feta cheese and radicchio tossed with vinaigrette of tarragon vinegar and bold and spicy, Spanish olive oil. The Boissiere Extra Dry Vermouth is magnificent served simply with a few splashes of seltzer water and a long peel of lemon with your salad.  Delicious! 

Vermouth was originally used as a hair tonic to repel pesky fleas.  It’s nice to know it evolved from a tonic first to be administered only topically to one that is more comfortable to the drinker, when imbibed internally! 

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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