While most of the UK has been sipping on G&Ts and stockpiling Aperol, vermouth has been quietly but confidently transforming the bar scene under our noses.
To be honest, vermouth never really left. It’s always been a key ingredient in some of the most famous and classic cocktails, such as the drink du jour Negroni, the Manhattan and, of course, the legendary Martini.
So why is this revival happening now? Firstly, with information so easily accessible nowadays, the understanding of vermouth has improved vastly. Bartenders know how to store and use it properly, creating new and interesting cocktails or offering it as an aperitif, on the rocks with a twist, or long with soda.
There has also been a shift favouring more bitter flavours in our drinks, evidenced by the rise in popularity of Aperol spritz, negroni, espresso martini, and the whole movement of “healthy” drinks such as kombucha, turmeric and matcha, all bitter and herbaceous with intense, spiced flavours.
Right now, of course, there’s a gin craze gripping Britain’s bars, with the spirit breaking sales records, leading to a sudden interest in the use of botanics in alcohol. This includes vermouth, which has refined its quality over the past five years and, like gin, has become much more interesting with a far wider appeal.
It’s already hugely popular in Spain and Italy, where it’s started to replace the staples like coffee, gin and tequila as the go-to aperitif. With a lower alcohol content, it’s no wonder its reputation is growing fast, especially with the younger generation and millennials, who are now more inclined to order drinks with a low ABV and a cleaner taste.
While it may never hit the dizzy heights of gin, vermouth is a hugely versatile drink with an incredible history. And with innovative brands such as Vermouth Del Professore, Cocchi Americano, Antica Formula and Dolin still undiscovered by many drinkers, I can only see vermouth growing in popularity over the coming months and years.
• The Capital Bar has just reopened with a new look and innovative gin and vermouth menu curated by Saverio Vicari. It also boasts a new bar menu by Michelin-starred Outlaw’s at The Capital restaurant; 22-24 Basil Street, Knightsbridge; capitalhotel.co.uk/the-capital-bar