An aromatised fortified wine usually made with wormwood, citrus and botanicals, vermouth is a key component in many classic cocktails – most notably in aperitifs like the negroni and the martini.
With a history that can be traced back to Ancient Greece, China and India, it has its origins in wine that was infused with botanicals for medicinal purposes – so vermouth is (almost) good for you.
Its name specifically comes from the German word for wormwood, wermut, which was thought to help with stomach ailments.
Because of this, vermouth was often produced in regions rich in wormwood trees, in Piedmont, Italy and Savoie, France (although despite vermouth doesn't technically need to contain wormwood).
It was a popular standalone drink until the late 19th century, when creative bartenders started using it in mixed drinks like the negroni, the manhattan, the americano and the martini.
Historically, there were two main types of vermouth: red (the sweeter of the two) and white (which tends to be on the dry side). Today, there's a broad spectrum of styles that range all the way from extra-dry white to amber and beyond.
Here are some new-school vermouths to try, whether you're looking for a standalone serve or to mix up your negroni.
New vermouths to buy now:
Regal Rogue Daring Dry
New South Wales, Australia
A lip-smacking dry vermouth made with a base of sauvignon blanc and native Australian botanicals.
50cl, 18%; £17.26, masterofmalt.com
El Bandarra Vermut White
A modern vermouth in the classic Spanish style, made with Catalonian wine and more than 40 botanicals.
100cl, 15%; £22, masterofmalt.com
Hotel Starlino Rose Aperitivo
A vermouth-style aperitivo from the home of vermouth in Italy, made from a rosé wine base and infused with wormwood, citrus and berries. Great in a spritz.
75cl, 15%; £20.75, thewhiskyexchange.com
A classic red vermouth with a spicy, warming quality and notes of vanilla and raisins. Great in a negroni.
75cl, £16.8%; £25, oddbins.com
Azaline Saffron Vermouth
A rich, sweet vermouth that makes use of Silk Road spices like saffron and cardamom, adding complexity to classic vermouth cocktails.
75cl, 17%; £24.95, masterofmalt.com