Emily's DIY Sweet Vermouth

By fiveandspice
September 21, 2016
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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.

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
  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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