Bring on the vermouth


Collector Vermouth - a great gift for a food lover who likes their drink trendy


As is usual at this time of year there’ve been a whole number of articles about trends in food for the year ahead, and I’m intrigued and excited about the return of vermouth.

I don’t suppose it should come as a big surprise, given the recent interest in things like Aperol and Fernet Branca. It seems to be about red vermouth, but sure the whole spectrum will make a reappearance. I’ve been longing for a trip back to the Ethicurean, and whilst it might not be the done thing to have with breakfast, their own vermouth, the Collector, would definitely be worth a try.

Possibly easier to get hold of the Antica Formula from Marks & Spencer, although it’s not yet on their website. TheDrinkShop have a whole range including Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and La Quintinye Vermouth Royal. Apparently we’re supposed to drink it straight up or with a dash of soda, so best make it good stuff if that’s the way.

Anyway, if it’s a choice between drinking vermouth or eating insects, being pushed again as a trend, then I know which I am choosing!


The Saturday Session – In Search of the Perfect Dry Martini


The perfect martini?


Last night I enjoyed a cultural night out at Nottingham Playhouse to see their production of Blithe Spirit. From this one would deduce that essential kit in many households of the time was a cocktail shaker and a ready supply of martini glasses!

I was debating in my head on the way home as to exactly what made up a dry martini, although I was quite sure it bore no resemblance to the dry martini and lemonade beloved of my parent’s generation. And the answer seems to be there is no one recipe for the “perfect” dry martini.

There is much agreement that you need the right equipment, and ice. There must be ice and apparently not any old ice. No to tap water ice, but am assuming filtered or best Evian would be ok! And of course it’s not going to taste as smooth if you use Tesco’s Basics Gin or Vermouth rather than a more premium spirit.

So that brings us to the recipe: gin meets vermouth, end of.

Or rather the start of endless combinations. For a dry one, it would appear to be four parts gin to one part dry vermouth might be a good starting point. Shaken together over ice then strained into a martini glass.

The extra dry martini could be 12 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth, and one source quotes the perfect martini as 4 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth and 1 part sweet vermouth. You could garnish it with everything from olives to cocktail onions to slivers of orange or lemon peel.

But really, it’s all about the spirits. And we’re not talking about the ghosts of either Mrs Condimine. According to the World Spirit’s Festival in January, the best gin in the world was Blackwoods’ Vintage Dry Gin. It certainly sounds like it would be perfect for the job, and also wouldn’t just taste like neat alcohol due to the mix of local botanical ingredients from the Shetlands.

I have to be honest, I’ve never tried it, but I guess could be persuaded to give it a go. My personal favourites in the gin department are Plymouth, Bombay Sapphire or Hendricks, although not sure how purists in the martini field would view the cucumber note in the Hendricks. Personally I think it would be a great addition.

Vermouth really seems to come down to a choice between Martini and Noilly Prat, and given that it’s called a Martini, I might be tempted to plump for that. Although if the bottle looked nice, I might go for the Noilly Prat. Or both.

And then you need good glasses to serve it in. Which seem to be everywhere in recent times, but if you think you’re going to develop a taste for these then frame good liquor with good glass. I like the simplicity of the ones from LSA, which are classy and unfussy, pure of line, which is what a good martini should be.

So, my darlings, I’m going to waft off now and dress for dinner and wait to be shaken, not stirred!

Fabulous photographs courtesy of Mustard Faith on Flickr