Make Ahead

Emily's DIY Sweet Vermouth

September 21, 2016
1 Rating
Photo by Emily Vikre
Author Notes

My own version of sweet vermouth. It's a pretty light vermouth—not too sweet, or bitter, or aggressive in any way. You don't have to make your own vermouth, but it's kind of fun to give it a try.

Because I own a distillery, I have all of these herbs on hand anyway, which I suppose gives me an unfair advantage and makes it a lot less ridiculous to make something like this. If you want to order herbs for yourself, I suggest checking online sources like Mountain Rose Herbs or even Amazon. —fiveandspice

  • Makes about 4 to 5 cups
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry white wine (I use pinot grigio)
  • 1/2 teaspoon wormwood
  • 1/6 teaspoon gentian root
  • 1/12 teaspoon angelica root
  • 1/12 teaspoon chamomile
  • 1/3 inch piece of vanilla bean
  • 1/3 tablespoon orange peel
  • 3 rosemary leaves (like, the actual little leaves, not whole sprigs)
  • 1 sage leaf
  • 1 basil leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup tawny port
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup scant (about 9/10ths cup) sugar
In This Recipe
  1. Combine all of the herbs and spices with 1 1/2 cups of the dry white wine and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and add the remaining white wine and 1 cup tawny port. Put in the refrigerator and let infuse about 3 hours. Strain.
  2. Stir together the scant cup of sugar with 1/3 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pan. Heat on moderate heat until it starts to bubble. Let it continue to bubble away, swirling very gently now and then, until the sugar has caramelized and is dark amber-colored. Remove from heat.
  3. Carefully add the 1 cup of brandy. Return to very low heat and let the seized up caramel melt back in, stirring as needed, and adding some of the infused wine mixture if more liquid is needed.
  4. Combine the caramel mixture and the infused wine mixture and store in the refrigerator, tightly sealed for up to a month.
  5. Use in place of sweet vermouth in cocktails, or serve plain, over ice, with a lemon twist.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.