Poor vermouth. It's long been "confined to dusty bottles in the depths of the liquor cabinet," ignored for its own merit, and only considered valuable when paired with others (like vodka, or gin). But, writes Chris Erikson in the New York Post—in a piece proclaiming that "vermouth is couth!"—now, "local artisans are giving the oft-forgotten martini mixer a major makeover." Thank goodness for dedicated local artisans!
How is vermouth couth? Well, for one, there are some fancy new brands of vermouth being produced. Just take a look at their names: Atsby Vermouth, "now offered in dozens of bars and shops around the city," as well as, yep, Bespoke Vermouth (produced by Max Messier, a Brooklyn-based mixologist who likes drinking vermouth and soda on the rocks) and Red Hook-based Uncouth Vermouth, another brand.
Why ever would you drink vermouth, though? Vermouth has history! In case you didn't know, vermouth is "a wine that's been steeped in botanicals and fortified with an unaged spirit, often grape brandy." It's a beverage popularized during the late 19th century, when it was put into nearly every kind of cocktail and consumed as an aperitif as well. And given that everything old is new-ish again, "the cocktail renaissance and boom in small spirit makers are bringing it back in style"—"craft cocktail" style, of course. Consider the Atsby offerings: "The sweeter Armadillo Cake, with muscovado sugar and 32 botanicals including wild celery and shiitake mushrooms, and the drier Amberthorn, made with anise, lavender, grapefruit peel and honey." Yum?
Other bonus points for vermouth: ordering it is (presumably) better for your bar-cred than requesting a mojito, plus it's easier to get your hands on than is, say, a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. And vermouths can be made "using foraged or locally sourced herbs," for those who like to stick close to home, drink-wise. Plus, try saying it! Ver-mooooth. So nice and easy, like sipping a delicious cocktail, no? The booze paradigm has shifted; vermouth is here, give it a chance! (You can still mix it with your favorite local-ingredient-infused vodka. We think.)