Ah, sweet vermouth. The once maligned and now celebrated child of cocktail’s golden age. It is the versatile and vivacious powerhouse behind such classics as the Manhattan and the Negroni. It is the complex and sultry backbone to the Vieux Carre and the Bijou. It is, in short, indispensable to most any bar that exists. Vermouth can be, and often is, an afterthought to the home bartender, an inconvenient necessity. An excellent quality vermouth is actually a revelation, a high point in your bar’s arsenal and the choice of bottle is one of great importance! While there are several superb examples in the world of vermouth, we being lovers of cider deserve a variety of vermouth that is based on the fruit we love: the humble apple.
The recipe is made up of a few stages and will take about two days to complete. The recipe makes a little over a quarter gallon and will require 12 extra containers for storing your tinctures and syrups. While you can absolutely make the tinctures based on volume, I highly recommend working by weight. Some of the following ingredients may be difficult to find in a supermarket but can be found at your local apothecary or ordered online.
750 ml Still or Frizzanti Cider (we used Colorado Cider Co. Heritage Blend)
750 ml Vodka (100°)
2 tbsp apple juice
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Ginger Juice (Opt.)
20 g Cinnamon
20 g Chamomile
20 g Orange Peel
10 g Lemon Peel
10 g Coriander
10 g Cardamom
10 g Star Anise
10 g Wormwood
10 g Licorice Root
10 g Gentian Root
Sweet vermouth is traditionally a grape-based wine that is fortified by an addition of botanically infused alcohol and sweetened by a mixture of sugar and grape juice. The name vermouth comes from one of the principal botanicals which was traditionally used: wormwood. This process blends a bottle of cider with ten different botanical tinctures and 2 syrups. Start by creating the tinctures and syrups, then bottle the final blend.
Stage 1: Create Tinctures
Tinctures sound scary but are actually quite simple. Some take a short amount of time, some take a substantial amount of time. All tinctures are quite easy however: simply add botanicals to 100° vodka and let sit.
Start all tinctures at the same time and set three timers.
Place each individual botanical into a separate jar
Add 100° vodka (5 times the botanical weight, or volume if can’t work by weight)
Steep the tinctures*
Strain into the large bowl or jar used in the final blend
20 minutes – Wormwood
1 hour – Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Chamomile, Licorice Root, Gentian
12 hour – Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Star Anis
Stage 2: Apple Syrup
Once the wormwood tincture is strained you should have time to make the apple syrup. This is just as easy, simply mix the sugar and the apple juice in a blender until smooth. Set aside and wait until the rest of the tinctures are finished.
Stage 3: Final Blend
In a large bowl or jar add your bottle of cider, the tinctures, the apple syrup, and optionally the ginger juice.
Lazlo Steele is a career bartender, bunny lover, and the host of Funky Tipples: the Home Bar Advice podcast.