Culture | May 10, 2016 9:00 am

Why Your Home Bar Needs More Vermouth

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

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.