This Is the Right Way to Store Your Vermouth, According to an Expert

Sweet or dry, keeping your vermouth chilled is the best way to ensure top-notch martinis and Manhattans

Dirty Martinis in glasses

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

It always saddens me to see a bottle of vermouth sitting out on a counter or atop a bar cart, which inevitably signals  it’s on its way to spoiling, or perhaps already has. And that means bland, bad cocktails are sure to result.

What Is Vermouth, Anyway?

A lot of people don’t know how to properly store vermouth, because a lot of people don’t even know what vermouth really is. While it’s a key ingredient in cocktails like the martini, Manhattan, and negroni, vermouth is not actually a spirit. 

sweet and dry vermouth in glasses

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Vermouth is a fortified wine that’s been aromatized with herbs and spices and fortified with a distilled spirit. It comes in both a dry (white) variety as well as a sweet (red). The centuries-old concoction was originally created for medicinal purposes, and today is commonly infused with botanicals like wormwood, cinnamon, orange peel, juniper, star anise, cardamom, chamomile, and angelica root.

Why Vermouth Should Be Refrigerated

“The magic of classic cocktails like the martini or negroni comes from the delicate balance of flavors and aromas, which can easily be thrown off by an old vermouth,” says Fabio Raffaelli, brand ambassador for Martini & Rossi, maker of top-selling dry and sweet vermouths.

Because vermouth is a wine, it should be treated as such. You wouldn’t leave a bottle of Pinot Grigio or rosé out on your counter and expect it to still taste good weeks later. Why should you treat vermouth differently? When an opened bottle of vermouth is left out at room temperature, it quickly oxidizes and turns to vinegar. Naturally, this can ruin the flavor profile of any cocktail. 

The best way to store an opened bottle of vermouth is in your fridge, where cooler temperatures help prevent rapid spoilage and oxidation, making it stay fresh and full of aromas for a longer period of time.

How Long Will Vermouth Last?

Because vermouth generally has a higher alcohol-by-volume (ABV) than other still wines, it will stay fresher longer in your fridge than typical wine, but not indefinitely. “If stored in a refrigerator once opened, vermouth will stay fresh for about eight weeks, and then will still be good—although maybe not as fresh—for about two months after that,” says Raffaelli.

While you won’t get sick from drinking old vermouth that’s been stored at room temperature (or been lingering in your fridge for a year) , you won’t be doing anything for your cocktails, either.  So, if you have a newly opened bottle of dry or sweet vermouth sitting out at room temperature, do yourself a favor and move it to your fridge door. Whenever I pop open a new bottle of vermouth, I like to write the date somewhere on the back label. That way, even if I do forget about the bottle, I have a way of knowing just how old it is, ensuring that my martinis and negronis are cocktail bar quality.  

Vermouth Storage Tips

Once opened, write the date on the back of the vermouth label and store in your refrigerator for up to 8 weeks. Beyond that time, the subtly and flavors of the vermouth will lessen, but it will still be useable for an additional 2 months.