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Vermouth is a spirit that many drinkers have at home, but some aren't quite sure how to use it. For those who are unfamiliar with the aperitif, vermouth is a fortified wine infused with herbs and spices. There are two main styles: dry (light-bodied with floral, fruity, and herbal notes) and sweet (medium-bodied, red in color, fruitier on the palate, and significantly sweeter than the former). Sweet vermouth may even exhibit vanilla, caramel, and cocoa flavors.
For fans of prominently herbaceous drinks, dry vermouth is a key ingredient in many iconic cocktails, perhaps most famously the classic martini. Just add gin and your choice of olives or a lemon twist.
Set your home bar up for success with these bartender-approved best bottles of dry vermouth.
Carpano Dry Vermouth
“When it comes to vermouth, I think the Italians nailed it, so I try to stick with Italian vermouth,” says Piero Procida, food and beverage director of The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills. “Age-old and natural processes are what make Italian vermouths an excellent choice. They've had many years to perfect their craft and their flavor profiles tend to be more unique in character. Carpano Antica vermouth is the perfect example of this."
In agreeance, Drew Johnson, head bartender at the Michelin-starred Musket Room says, “I have always been a huge fan of pretty much everything that Carpano makes. I’m a big fan of Carpano Dry in my martinis. It’s a pretty diverse vermouth, as well. It makes a killer Clover Club, and in a pinch, you can actually just add a touch of simple syrup and transform this beautifully aromatic vermouth from dry to blanc."
Carpano Dry is the traditional dry vermouth from the brand, but Alex Pendergrass, assistant director of food and beverage at Newport's Hotel Viking, also recommends Carpano Bianco, not only for the superb quality of the Carpano legacy, but for its versatility. Carpano Bianco offers a velvety and round mouthfeel that lends itself well to gin martinis. The citrus and fruit flavors complement any base spirit, but it's also an easy sipper over ice.
La Quintinye Extra Dry Vermouth
“There are a few good dry vermouths out there, but the one we use most often is the La Quintinye Extra Dry Vermouth,” says Gavin Humes, director of food and beverage at Scratch Restaurants Group. “It's nicely balanced, not overwhelming, and sincerely complex. It makes for a brilliant martini or Vesper, and even plays well in a spritz topped with a bit of sparkling water and a twist.”
Rob Vogel, the bar manager at Baltimore’s Monarque, seconds this.
“I enjoy its intense floral-forward and green herb-driven flavors," he says. "When using La Quintinye Royal in a martini, I add lemon peel, three anise pods, and a sprig of rosemary while stirring the mixing glass. I recommend adding botanicals, herbs, and spices that accentuate the vermouth of your choosing.”
Made in France, this company was the first to ever use Pineau des Charentes as the base of vermouth.
Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth
“Like stepping into an herb garden, Cinzano’s subtle notes of oregano and mint are ever-present next to a bright undertone of citrus,” says Max Green, owner and bartender at Blue Quarter in New York City. “Make yourself a refreshing 50/50 martini to chill out on a cool autumn afternoon or replace the rum in a mojito.”
Cinzano dates back to 1757, when brothers Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano started experimenting with wine infusions in their Piedmont, Italy, sweets shop. Today’s versatile aperitif gets its signature flavor from 14 different ingredients, including chamomile and rose petal, that flavor the white wine. Cinzano Extra Dry has herbal notes of mint and oregano, and a crisp, mildly bitter finish.
“Like every bottle of vermouth, it's meant to be finished,” says Green. “Don’t let it be forgotten in the door of your fridge.”
Ransom Dry Vermouth
Juan Fernandez, beverage director at The Ballantyne in Charlotte, North Carolina, loves this American-made vermouth from Ransom Wines and Distillery. The base is a blend of organically farmed white grapes and pinot noir blanc that's distilled into brandy, infused with botanicals, and barrel-aged in French oak. The result is beautifully floral with subtle notes of ripe peach, bold herbs, and lemon verbena.
“Ransom Dry Vermouth is a classic formulation, with eponymous base notes of wormwood," Fernandez says. "Among the botanicals used in the infusion are rosehip, skullcap, chamomile, orange peel, verbena, spearmint, star anise, cinnamon bark, angel root, burdock root, fennel, cardamom, vanilla bean, and lemon peel.”
“The most important thing about vermouth is keeping it cold once opened. Many bartenders and home drinkers put it back on the shelf when they are done. But just like wine, once opened, it spoils over time.” — Piero Procida, Food and Beverage Director of The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills
Bordiga Extra Dry Vermouth
Jeremy Allen, beverage director at MiniBar Hollywood, says one of his favorite dry vermouths is this bottle by Bordiga. It starts with a blend of white grapes, including moscato and cortese, local to the Piedmont region. It's then infused with botanicals—many of them foraged by hand from the Occitan Valleys—like wormwood, gentian root, and gentian flowers. The resulting vermouth is crisp and rich, with prominent alpine flavors of citrus and gentian. It shines in a martini, but try it with tonic water and a bit of lemon for a breezy before-dinner drink.
Jardesca California Aperitiva
One of Allen’s other favorite dry vermouths is Jardesca California Aperitiva, which is viognier-based with ten botanicals and fortified with its own grape eau de vie. Jardesca is a take on traditional European vermouth, handmade in Sonoma, California, by a team of winemakers and mixologists. It blends together three different Golden State wines, then fortifies it further with grape-based spirits.
What makes this bottle unique is the creative blend of California botanicals, including pink grapefruit, bay leaf, and pink peppercorn—all of which are natural. It’s herbaceous, and one of the sweeter bottles on this list, with bright citrus acidity and apricot notes. Try it with a squeeze of citrus on the rocks.
Rivata Dry Vermouth
Rivata makes its dry vermouth in the Langhe region, a hilly area in the famed winemaking region of Piedmont in northern Italy, and it comes highly recommended by Piero Procida. The Italian vermouth features a fruity nose with hints of wood and a beautiful pine flavor unique to the brand. The woodsy, juniper-forward flavor makes this dry vermouth really come alive. Procida recommends it in a martini.
Cocchi Americano Bianco
A bottle of Cocchi Americano sits on almost every cocktail bar in the country—and for good reason. The wine-based aperitif has a unique flavor that lends itself well to cocktailing. Dating back to 1891, Cocchi Americano uses Moscato d’Asti wine, then flavors it with cinchona bark—the same bark that gives tonic water its unique quinine flavor. (Cocchi Americano is part of a family of spirits called Chianti: wine-based spirits made with herbs thought to help combat malaria.)
It’s crisp, lightly spiced, and citrus-forward with a slight bitterness from the cinchona bark. This is less like dry vermouth and more like a bitter wine-based aperitif, so if you have tried your fair share of dry vermouths and are looking for something quirkier to add to your cocktails or sip alone, pick up a bottle of Cocchi Americano.
Cinzano 1757 Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry
“Every vermouth is made up of different botanicals, and like a fingerprint, each one is different because of this,” says Claire Sprouse, bartender and owner of Hunky Dory in Brooklyn, New York. “1757 Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry has just the right balance of high aromatic herbal notes—think thyme and sage—and a depth of baking spices. This lets it play nice with both light and dark spirits, and makes for versatile vermouth for any bar. Personally, though, I just take mine over ice with a twist.”
This special, small-batch bottling is a nod to the year brothers Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano founded the Cinzano brand. An ode to Casa Cinzano’s three-century history, this spirit is carefully crafted by hand.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Kate Dingwall is a sommelier and spirits writer. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years and has her BarSmarts and WSET certification. She interviewed nine experts for this article.