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Sweet Vermouth - red or white?

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swizzzlestick Posted: 1 Oct 2014 3:50 PM

If an old drink recipe just calls for a sweet vermouth how do you decide if you take a sweet white one (like a French Dolin Blanc) or a sweet  red one (like an Italian Martini Rosso or Carpano Antica)?

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If it's an old drink recipe, “sweet vermouth” pretty much always means a red vermouth. If you can find a recipe that calls for a blanc or bianco, then it’s going to say so outright or at least be call out an (inevitably obscure) brand that will lead to a blanc or bianco. Recipes calling for blanc or bianco vermouth are extremely rare even 80-90 years after this style appeared (~1890s). I feel we’re only just now really discovering the potential in the style.

One of the few times the blanc style burbled up was in Cuba during Prohibition. They used it in El Presidente, which is basically a Manhattan using Cuban rum instead whiskey and white vermouth instead of red. Tasty.

That said, blanc and bianco vermouths work very well in a vast array of old recipes standing in, variably, for red or dry vermouth. For example, I dislike almost all drinks that attempt to mingle both French/dry (i.e., Noilly Prat) and Italian/red vermouth together. But if you swap out the dry vermouth for blanc, the results can be much more pleasing (to me). Many drinks that call for Italian vermouth are excellent with a blanc or bianco. Many drinks that call for a French/dry vermouth are excellent with a blanc. (I make a lot of Martinis with old tom gin and Dolin blanc. Sweet, yes, but so was the Martini originally. Damn fine drink.)

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Thank you so much for your response, this helps a lot! Now it is sleeping time here and I will finish the day with a Martini (with Old Tom gin and Dolin Blanc. Smile ).

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Newbie question: I like to add an ounce of bianco to my gintonics. What kind of drink would that be? I call it "Martonic" Big Smile

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