Today (June 19, 2019) is National Martini Day. My friends at T.W. Hollister and Company in Gaviota, California sent me some fabulous vermouth to taste – Oso de Oro dry vermouth and red vermouth. The Hollister homestead has a rich heritage which can be found here: https://twhollister.co/heritage
They source the finest ingredients available and wild forage select native botanicals from their family’s historic ranch on the California Coast, which gives the vermouth a refreshing and earthy quality.
Since I’ve always wanted to learn more about vermouth, I decided to make this an educated tasting and ventured down to our neighborhood River and Rail Restaurant to talk with my favorite mixologists: Shane Lumpp and Nexus Watts. https://riverandrailrestaurant.com
Shane said that his favorite martini is a Tanqueray (gin) 10 martini: 2 ounces gin (or vodka), 1/2 ounce vermouth, orange bitters, stirred in cocktail shaker with ice, strained into a Nick and Nora cocktail glass, serve with a lemon twist. He also rubs the lemon peel twist on the stem of the cocktail glass so that the lemon scent will permeate your fingers and you will get a whiff of the lemony aroma as you sip the cocktail.
My husband likes an odd number of olives (3) in his cocktail because it’s long been said that an even number of olives in a martini is unlucky.
I often wondered why people say they don’t like vermouth. I like its botanical flavors along with notes of blood orange, chamomile and caramel. Shane and Nexus kindly explained to me why vermouth used to get a bad rap. The naysayers drank bad vermouth because that was about all that was available, but now it’s easier to find very good vermouth such as Oso de Oro.
Nexus brought up a good point about prohibition. During this time in history people were drinking whatever they could get their hands on and mixing fancy cocktails was not an option for everyone. By the time prohibition ended, canned and frozen processed foods were coming into style so the finer ingredients used to mix cocktails sat on the back shelf until the 1990’s when mixology gained popularity again.
Fortunately lots of folks are more educated about vermouth these days. It’s never gone out of style in Italy and Spain. Just remember to keep vermouth chilled in the refrigerator (we never did and that may be another reason we neglected to drink much vermouth).
The Oso de Oro dry vermouth is an excellent sipping cocktail all by itself with a twist of orange peel or try it in a Negroni. The red vermouth (sometimes called sweet vermouth) is wonderful in a Manhattan.
Here’s a lovely summer strawberry cocktail featuring sweet red vermouth that I found in Fine Cooking Magazine:
By Julian De Ferral of Bureau and Lutyens in London
1.25 fl. oz. Akvinta Vodka
.5 fl. oz. Sweet Red Vermouth
.5 fl. oz. Honey Syrup (Equal parts honey and hot water to make it pourable)
.3 fl. oz. Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
1.5 Medium-Sized Strawberries
Muddle the strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a strawberry.
Enjoy these cocktail recipes compliments of T.W. Hollister & Co.
Vermouth Over Martini
4 ounces T. W. Hollister and Co. Oso de Oro Dry Vermouth
2 ounces gin
1 lemon peel twist (per drink)
Add the vermouth and gin to a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir until cold. Strain into two coupes. Add a lemon peel twist to each drink.
Hollister Takes Manhattan
Makes 2 cocktails
4 ounces T. W. Hollister and Co. Oso de Oro Sweet Vermouth
2 ounces rye
2 dashes per drink Angostura bitters
1 house-made cherry (per drink)
Add vermouth, rye, angostura bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir until cold. Strain into 2 coupes. Add a cherry to each drink.
The Best House-Made “Maraschino” Cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint sweet cherries
1/2 cup Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
Clean and stem the cherries and pit them. Here’s a link to a kitchen hack to pit cherries quickly and easily:
Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in saucepan just big enough to later hold the cherries too. Stir and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium and add cherries. Simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add liqueur.
Pour into a clean jar. Let cool to room temperature. Seal with lid and refrigerate.
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