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DrinkBoy: Noilly Prat vs Noilly Prat

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Robert Hess Posted: 20 Apr 2009 11:24 AM

Since I was finally able to snag a bottle of the new Noilly Prat dry vermouth, I took a little time this weekend to do a little taste comparison between that and the older formula... or since the new formula is the original formula, does that make the old formula the new formula? My head hurts, I think I need a drink...

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Noilly Prat vs Noilly Prat
Or "Will the Real Noilly Prat Please Stand Up"... or perhaps I'm the only one who remembers the old "To Tell The Truth" show?

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Good article!

I find the new product to have much sharper notes.  It seems to work just as well in most drinks; however, in Martinis and other cocktails where the vermouth can shine out, I do not care for it as much as the old Noilly Prat or some other vermouths like Boissiere and Dolin.

One major difference between European and U.S. usage of vermouth is that Europe drinks theirs as an aperitif wine and not as a cocktail ingredient.

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Robert Hess:

Noilly Prat vs Noilly Prat
Or "Will the Real Noilly Prat Please Stand Up"... or perhaps I'm the only one who remembers the old "To Tell The Truth" show?

Well, that certainly is a ringing endorsement of the "new" product! 

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The new product has what I think is a distinctly different flavor profile from the old product, so some may have a problem with it, but I personally like it better than the old product, by itself, in a Martini, as well as a Black Feather (which I am just finishing right now :-)

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Hmm.  I think that the new Dolin vermouth makes this thread academic...

Liberty Bar  ::  Seattle, WA  ::  Alcohology

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I picked up the Noilly Prat at DeLaurenties, down at the Pike Place Market, and they had the full like of Dolin there as well, so I picked up a bottle of each.

Frankly, I think I like the new Noilly Prat more than the Dolin. Dolin has a nice smooth flavor, with a gentle and slightly fruity spice which comes up in the background. When I compare Old NP, New NP, and Dolin, I can see where the Dolin is more similar to the Old NP, but better. However the New NP has a little more character which really comes through well when sipped neat over ice, and also I just felt better in a Martini.

But of course that's just my taste preference.

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I'd argue we should hold the New NP as of it's own - historically it was of a style unlike the traditional pale dry French Vermouth we've grown to know.  The oaking/aging, the slightly sweeter profile and Madeira like finish were unique to the Marseilles style. Those same characteristics may well have appeal today unlike when NP made the switch away to a pale extra dry.  All the better we have more choices than just a few years ago.

For those that have sponsorship or distributor/corporate supply agreements, the adjustment factor is a bit more pressing to address, and while frustrating to some, a joy to others, and to the great masses stretching bottles for weeks/months a total non-issue.

At home we use the New NP as the French do, in the kitchen and especially when preparing fish - tonight in a reduction with fennel and tomatoes for our halibut.  But of course it wasn't the only vermouth gracing mealtime tonight Smile

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Agree. The new NP is essentially a different product from what we were previously getting. Would love to know some background/dialog on why they originally decided to manufacture a special recipe for the states, and why they chose that particular recipe/profile... as well as how different they actually are.

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Liberty - Bar:

Hmm.  I think that the new Dolin vermouth makes this thread academic...

Dolin hasn't quite reached our market yet, but I'm told it's pricey. My local liquor shop said the small bottles will retail for more than $11. Is this true?

If Dolin really is the replacement for (American) Noily Prat, then my martinis just got a lot more expensive.

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I think the key is to figure out for yourself which vermouth (or vermouths) you want to use yourself. I love it when their are staff "blind tastings" where the staff is able to both provide input on what their thoughts are between different ingredients, but also where they are able to actually see for themselves what some of these differences mean in a drink.

When looking at using "this" product or "that", its cost can often play an important role. You'll want to compare the overal cost of the ingredients, against what you'd need to charge for it, and determine if you and your staff feel it is worth it. If you end up with a $14 Martini, but your staff is totally excited about it, then chances are they can sell it. However if they like the more expensive Martini, but not "that" much, then perhaps it is better to stick with what works.

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Thanks for your article about Noilly Prat.  I have some general questions about vermouth.

My wife and I recently returned from Spain where we enjoyed drinking vermouth as an apertif.  While I use vermouth in many cocktails, it had never been our practice to drink it straight.  When dining in a restaurant in Girona, we were served a complementary apertif, which we loved.  However, we weren't sure what it was and had some difficulty communicating to discover what we were drinking.  They could only identify it to us as a "martini."  We thought it was either vermouth or some cocktail with vermouth, but it was unlike any vermouth I have had.  It was served in a small apertif glass on the rocks with a slice of orange.  After some investigation at other bars, we eventually discovered we were drinking straight vermouth and the brand is Martini.  It looks just like the Martini & Rossi bottles I can find in liquor stores in the states, but simply says Martini, without the Rossi.  We discovered that we could universally order this anywhere by just asking for a martini (either rojo or blanco.)

Our problem is that I have been unable to find the same product in the U.S. and any of the vermouths I have tried just don't seem to be the same as what we experienced in Spain.  This article explains why, I guess.  Is Noilly Prat the only widely available vermouth that would be comparable to the vermouth we had in Europe?  Have you seen the Martini brand in the U.S?

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Yes, when traveling in Europe, one learns to ask for a "gin martini cocktail" when that is what they want. Otherwise you will often find yourself being served a delightful apperitif of vermouth on the rocks with a twist.

If you go to www.Martini.com and sign in as if you were coming from Spain, the product shots of vermouth you will eventually encouter will simply say "Martni", while doing the same thing here in the US you will see "Martini & Rossi", I suspect this was done so as to prevent the obvious confusion here in the US of folks thinking it was a "ready to drink" bottled martini cocktail?

I have no idea of the liquid inside of the bottles are the same between Spain and the US, but I would hope so! As we just saw with Noilly Prat however, that is not always the case.

-Robert

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Robert makes a very important point when travelling abroad (at least from stateside) - please do yourself and server a favor and specify "gin martini cocktail".  Too many time I've made that mistake when wanting my proper martini (a quagmire of a request as you all know), as much as I love a vermouth straight pour. 

Robert points to the matter of 'Martini' to 'Martini and Rossi'.  More on that in the days and months ahead. Poor guy, that Rossi.

To the last post, the liquid in the Noilly Dry btls in the USA are harmonized with what was sold in Spain.  Expect more global harmonization in the future.  Again, poor guy that Rossi.

For those following this thread , there's more on the Noilly history we'll present at Tales this year.  For those not heading to steamy NoLa, we'll post.  We'll try to be nice to that Rossi fellow.

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Eric Seed:

For those following this thread , there's more on the Noilly history we'll present at Tales this year.  For those not heading to steamy NoLa, we'll post.  We'll try to be nice to that Rossi fellow.

I'm quite intrigued. I'll look forward to your posting after Tales.

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Martin - say it ain't so you're not coming this year!  As a longtime evangelist for all things vermouth you'll be especially missed.  And definitely no less than that poor Rossi fellow. 

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