Wormwood, gentian, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, vanilla. These are some of the most typical herbs and spices used for vermouth.
The name "vermouth" comes from the French pronunciation of the German word "Wermut" for wormwood or absinthe, which was one of the original ingredients of this drink.
The origin of vermouth can be traced back to ancient China and India, where wines were infused with herbs and sugars for medicinal purposes. In ancient Greece and Rome, wormwood wine was used as a digestive and a tonic. In medieval Europe, herbal wines were popular among monks and apothecaries, who used them to treat various ailments and diseases.
The modern version of vermouth was born in Turin, Italy, in the late 18th century, when Antonio Benedetto Carpano created the first commercial vermouth inspired by a German wine called "Wermutwein", which he had tasted while working for a wine merchant. Carpano's vermouth soon became a fashionable drink among the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie of Turin, who enjoyed it as an apéritif in elegant cafés.
And still is.
Vermouth spread from Turin to other parts of Italy and Europe, where it was adopted and adapted. In Spain, vermouth became a popular drink in Catalonia, where it was served on tap in bars called "vermuterías".
Vermouth also crossed the Atlantic and reached the United States, where it played a key role in the development of cocktail culture. Vermouth was an essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, such as the Martini, the Manhattan, the Rob Roy, and the Negroni.
Today, vermouth is experiencing a revival and a renaissance, as more people discover its history, diversity and versatility. Vermouth can be enjoyed in many ways: neat or on ice, with or without citrus peel, mixed with soda or tonic water or as part of a cocktail.
It can also be paired with food, especially cheese, charcuterie, seafood, and chocolate.
Probably the most fascinanting place to experience the essence of Vermouth is Turin, the birthplace of vermouth and the capital of Piedmont's vermouth culture, with its cafès and producers. Perfectly served with style and elegance it can be tasted neat or paired with local delicacies such as the savoury vitello tonnato or the beautifully sweet and smooth gianduiotti.
Barcelona has many vermuterías, cozy places perfect for relaxing and socializing with friends or locals over a glass of vermouth and feel the warmth and hospitality of Catalan culture while enjoying the simple but delicious food that complements the bitter-sweet taste of vermouth.
For a modern version of vermouth, New York became the right destination. The hub of vermouth innovation and creativity, as it is home to many craft vermouth producers and cocktail bars that use vermouth as a main ingredient. It's the city where trying some of the most creative and delicious vermouth cocktails that are made by expert bartenders who know how to balance and enhance the flavours of vermouth.
Maybe it's not the best, but Americano is the most iconic cocktail you can prepare with vermouth.
The secret is balancing in equal parts the sweet red vermouth with the bitter you prefer. and top it with soda water. A slice of orange is the perfect garnish with a cube or two of ice. An awakening drink for every curious travaller's taste buds.
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