Cocktail Advice: Your Vermouth Has Gone Bad
And that’s why your Manhattans, Martinis and Negronis don’t taste right.
As the cocktail columnist for our sister publication, Vancouver Magazine, I’m often asked for home bartending tips and there are literally dozens: ice matters a lot, you shake too much and stir not enough, and always use fresh citrus are up there. But the number one flaw I see time in and time out is buying a bottle of vermouth (be it red or white) cracking it to make a drink, putting it back in the cabinet and expecting that it will last as it it were a bottle of vodka. Unlike vodka (or gin or scotch) vermouth is not a spirit but a fortified wine, which means it has a whole lot more in common with that bottle of Poplar Grove you just opened than it does with the bottle of Laphroaig your Uncle gave you last Christmas.
The rub is there’s no real solution. Putting the opened bottle in the fridge helps, buying smaller bottles helps (for some reason Vermouth is sold mostly in 1L containers when it should be sold only in 375mls), or transferring the bottle into smaller containers with no air all help, but the truth is you have to drink it. Even with the above you’ll only get 45 days out of a bottle, without over 30 days and your martini is going to taste a little off. It won’t hurt you but it sure won’t taste like the one the pros make either.