Make Ahead

Emily's DIY Sweet Vermouth

April  3, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Emily Vikre
  • Makes about 4 to 5 cups
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alex Rudd
    Alex Rudd
  • Trudy
  • Alix
  • Catherine Spanger
    Catherine Spanger

7 Reviews

Trudy September 30, 2023
After a trip to Spain where we fell in love with Vermouth, it was a challenge to find any here in our rural state. This is the second recipe I tried, and I confess I've probably made 15 batches! It is delicious. I add a small piece of cinnamon stick and a star anise and no Angelica root. Sometimes I add a juniper berry or two. Just be careful adding the liquid to the caramelized sugar. I learned the hard way to put one of those screen splatter guards on the pot and pour the brandy through that. This vermouth has been our drink of choice all summer.
Alex R. December 21, 2020
I confess, I struggle with measurements like 1/12 of a teaspoon - I found this conversion article here for people who want to use something more decimal:

Looks a great recipe - I am trying it now.
Alix October 14, 2018
Hi there
Quick question - is the thyme fresh or dried? Am just back from a week in Barcelona where I discovered Vermouth and now can't wait to make my own. Thanks!
Catherine S. March 4, 2018
Excellent recipe. I just gave a class on vermouth sharing history, storage tips, sampling commercial brands, DIY and then in a cocktail (Negroni). For the DIY portion, I put the herbs in glass containers, shared the recipe and provided samples. Everyone loved your recipe the most. I have had time to sample it later and love it more every time I try it again. It is so balanced, light and lovely to drink by itself and in cocktails. I am truly impressed and thank you so much for sharing.

Chris February 19, 2017
Good recipe. I went heavier on the orange peel to get a more orange flavor - mission accomplished. I was amazed by how little woodworm, gentian and angelica was needed. I thought it couldn't be possible for the root to have much impact on the taste at such a small quantity. It was perfect. Thanks for the recipe.
jtater November 18, 2016
This is a lovely vermouth recipe. I have made several others from recipes around the internet and cookbooks, but this one easily takes the cake. It is a little sweet, a little bitter, herbal without being too flowery. It is good for both sipping (nice with a lemon twist) and mixing (it's teriffic in a Manhattan). Other DIY vermouths head too far in the cinnamon/spice profile or the sweet profile. This one is just right as a base recipe from which to explore.

Be warned: this recipe truly does make 1.5 L of vermouth. Make sure you have a way to store it.

I made two additions to this recipe and was quite pleased. I added a lavendar sprig to the steeping ingredients, and then I added lavendar tincture and lemon balm tincture to the finished result. The lavendar during the steep is for aroma; the tinctures add floral/vegetal depth to the flavor.
jforbess October 9, 2016
I can't find the article you wrote introducing this recipe, but I knew it was fate, since Cocchi di Torino is my favorite sweet vermouth too, and I was out. I restocked my Cocchi today, plus made a batch of this. I'm really enjoying it. I ended up substituting yuzu peel for the orange because I got distracted at the Oaktown Spice Shop when I stopped in for the wormwood and other wacky spices. I think it's extra tart due to that. I also used majoram instead of thyme just because I love majoram so much, and I consider them cousin herbs.

Question: is it really supposed to be a 1/3 tablespoon of orange peel? I used 1/2 teaspoon of yuzu because 1/3 tablespoon would normally be written as 1 teaspoon, and it was already a huge component compared to the rest of the herbs.