Why Your Home Bar Needs More Vermouth

It’s more than just the boring part of your martini

By Diane Rommel

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10 May 2016

Winston Churchill.

Nobel Prize winner. Coiner of the phrase "Iron Curtain." Defender of the Free World.

And critic of vermouth.

For Churchill, the perfect drink (non-whiskey division) was concocted thusly: "I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini."

Apparently he never visited Wildhawk, the handsomely appointed, first-date-approved new bar in the Mission making a bulletproof case for vermouth’s inclusion in your home bar, your heart and your martini.

We talked to Wildhawk's Jacques Bezuidenhout about why.

InsideHook: What's so special about vermouth?

Jacques Bezuidenhout: Vermouth is a fortified wine that brings a lot of complexity to the drinking experience, with choices [ranging] from bianco [a pale, sweet vermouth] to dry [dry whites are the most common vermouth] or sweet [usually red]. You have many directions to take your cocktail creations. Obviously, we know vermouth works in our classics, but they can now be explored more as choices for the base of a cocktail. On top of that, you can also just enjoy vermouth neat or on the rocks.

IH: Where do you start if you don't know anything about it?

JB: Always start by tasting a few examples. Then read up about it. There is a lot of great info online as well as some good vermouth-specific books. But always start with the tasting experience.

IH: Which of its characteristics appeals to you?

JB: I love the balance of bitter and sweet flavors with vermouth, as well as all the complex botanicals that come into play. Vermouth is also lower ABV spirit — that means you can enjoy it without feeling the heavy effects of alcohol.

IH: What's your absolute favorite way to drink it?

JB: I love dry vermouth on the rocks with a lemon slice or in a highball with a splash of soda. Otherwise, I love some of the new vermouth cocktails that we have on the menu, like Hip Hops or Mister Rubino.

The Specifics

Wildhawk

3464 19th Street
(415) 420-1516

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