Martinis are one of the all-time iconic cocktails. Aside from either vodka or gin, the other key ingredient in a martini is the dry vermouth. Even those who love martinis don’t always have an expansive knowledge base when it comes to dry vermouths. Well, it’s time to break out your cocktail shakers because we have done some tasting and have a list of the eight best vermouths for martinis of all types!
- What Is Dry Vermouth?
- Best Dry Vermouth For Martini
- Best Sweet Vermouth For Martini
- Best Vermouth For Dirty Martini
- Best Brand Vermouth For Vodka Martini
- Best Vermouth For Gin Martini
- Best Vermouth For Hendrick's Martini
- Best Vermouth For Bombay Sapphire Martini
- Best Blended Vermouth for a Martini
- What To Look For In a Martini Vermouth
What Is Dry Vermouth?
Dry vermouths are actually much more complex and nuanced than many people realize. Dry vermouth is a type of fortified wine., which starts out as a wine that’s distilled from grapes but is then fortified with the addition of another type of liquor, most often brandy. It is also infused with herbs, which lends to its characteristic herbal notes and floral finish.
There are two main types of vermouth. — sweet vermouths and then dry vermouths. You can sometimes find different types along the sweet-dry spectrum, such as extra sweet or extra dry vermouth.
The best dry vermouths for martinis are often left up to a matter of personal preference. Some really like a dry martini with the driest of vermouths, while others prefer one that’s a bit more neutral.
No matter what you’re preference, we bet there’s a vermouth on this list that you’ll love.
Best Dry Vermouth For Martini
Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth
Noilly Prat is regarded around the world as one of the best dry vermouths of all time. Made in France, Noilly Prat originated in 1813. While the original formula has changed some, Noilly Prat is known for its notes of orange peel, a little coriander, and maybe an essence of star anise.
A martini made with a Noilly Prat and a lemon twist to garnish is pure perfection.
Best Sweet Vermouth For Martini
Martini & Rossi Rosso Sweet Vermouth
Sweet vermouth is more traditionally used in a cocktail like a Manhattan more often than it is in martinis, but it does lend a very interesting flavor profile when paired with vodka or gin.
Martini & Rossi Rossi Sweet Vermouth is a classic, and it’s one that every head bartender is familiar with. This sweet fortified wine is made in Italy and is luscious with notes of dark fruit, spices, and a hint of cinnamon bark.
We think the brandy taste is more pronounced in this than the ones we tasted from other brands.
Best Vermouth For Dirty Martini
Carpano Blanco Vermouth
The best word we can think of to describe Carpano Dry Vermouth is simply lovely. This dry vermouth is so well-balanced and smooth. It’s citrus-forward with notes of crisp green apple and Mediterranean herbs.
This is extremely versatile and one that those who prefer a lighter fortified wine taste will enjoy.
Best Brand Vermouth For Vodka Martini
Cocchi Americano is a dry vermouth that pairs beautifully with vodka in a classic martini. Of all the dry vermouth on our list, this is one that leans more heavily toward tasting like a dry aperitif wine than it does a true vermouth.
One thing that sets Cocchi Americano apart is that it starts with Moscato wine that’s made in Italy. It’s then fortified with Cinchona Bark, which is what gives tonic water its unique flavor.
This vermouth is crisp, like a glass of white wine, and we noticed flavors of bitter almond, lemon zest, and a richness that can really only be found in good Italian vermouth.
Best Vermouth For Gin Martini
Dolin Dry Vermouth
Gin martinis are a bit more complex tasting thanks to all the herbaceous and botanical notes in the gin. To balance this, you want dry vermouth that is well-balanced and crisp but not overpowering in any way. Dolin Dry Vermouth is perfect for this.
With Dolin Blanc, you can taste the Alpine herbs in the background, maybe a little citrus, like lemon peel, and some light floral notes, but they’re really not that prominent.
This wonderfully compliments the gin in a martini without competing with it.
Best Vermouth For Hendrick’s Martini
Vya Whisper Dry Vermouth
Hendrick’s is a wonderfully complex gin that makes a great martini. Vya Whisper Dry Vermouth is mellow and smooth and perfect for smoothing the edges of the herbs and aromatics that create Hendrick’s.
Vya Whisper Dry Vermouth is smooth enough that some prefer to drink it on its own, either neat or over a single cube of ice.
Best Vermouth For Bombay Sapphire Martini
Tribuno Dry Vermouth
Bombay Sapphire is one of the most popular upper-tier gins. It’s a fairly dry gin with stronger notes of juniper and pine. It’s what you expect from an elegant gin.
Tribuno Dry Vermouth has a lot in common with Bombay Sapphire, including pine undernotes, but then it surprises you with other flavors, like a little burst of mint.
A Sapphire Tribuno martini is incredible paired with a citrus peel in a chilled glass.
Best Blended Vermouth for a Martini
Ransom Dry Vermouth
Ransom Dry Vermouth is a unique blend of a good handful of different wine varietals. It’s blended with pinot gris, muscat, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and more.
It offers wonderful spices and a subtle citrus finish. In a martini, this is both complex and refreshing at the same time.
What To Look For In a Martini Vermouth
The type of wine used in making vermouth is going to affect the flavor. For example, one made with pinot gris wine will be drier and less sweet than vermouth made from Moscato white wine.
Underlying Herbs & Florals
This area is where dry vermouths really differentiate. Some dry vermouths are aged in French oak barrels, which will leave them with a more earthy, smokier flavor. Vermouth that is infused with cinchona bark will have an almost mineral finish to them.
Some vermouths are infused with other herbs, like burdock root, gentian root, or gentian flowers, which create a flavor that is slightly more bitter.
Some people love this flavor, while others prefer vermouth with more citrus or vegetal notes. Citrus notes tend to center around orange blossom essence and lemon essence.
A vermouth that is more floral works nicely with certain gins. The aroma and gentle taste of rose petals seem to go really nicely with gin’s botanical notes.
A sweeter vermouth will have more flavors of baking spices and vanilla bean, creating a richer drink when blended into a martini.
Tips for Making a Great Martini with Vermouth
When it comes to martini cocktails, there’s a range in how much vermouth people prefer. Some like equal parts vermouth to gin or vodka, while others like just a splash.
The only way to figure out what you prefer is to experiment a little with your vermouth. Make a few cocktails with different quantities to find out what your overall taste preference is.
If you’re making a martini variation, like dirty martinis with olive brine, consider adjusting the vermouth to compensate for the other ingredients in the martini. You can keep them the same, but you also don’t want to dilute the gin or vodka too much.
Next, a martini is best served chilled, no matter how much or what type of vermouth you use. Prepare your martini in a cocktail shaker with ice, and then either shake or gently stir, depending on your preference. A shaken martini will be slightly more diluted and chilled than one that is stirred.
Also, don’t forget the garnish! Vermouths go wonderfully with the traditional martini garnishes, like a citrus twist or olive.
What if you’ve decided you don’t like vermouth at all? That’s perfectly fine! If you want a martini that’s more than just pure vodka or gin, you can try adding a little Lillet Blanc or even something like orange bitters to add layers of flavor and sophistication to your drink without adding vermouth.
What’s your favorite vermouth to dress up your martini? There are some really great ones that really level up the classic cocktail. Check back with us often for more exciting cocktails and deep-dive lists of your favorite spirits at Cocktails Cafe.