These 7 cocktails have less alcohol but just as much flavor as their boozier brethren
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
Winston Churchill was known for drinking his martinis dry. Very dry.
In fact, as the story goes, when asked how much vermouth he wanted with his gin, Great Britain’s most famous prime minister once declared that the bartender need only look at a bottle of vermouth while making his cocktail.
There’s likely a reason for that — and it goes beyond Churchill’s affinity for a stiff drink. In their infancy, cocktails were comprised mostly of high-quality vermouth; but as the 20th century rolled along, distilled spirits steadily improved in quality. Before long, cocktail recipes evolved to more heavily feature those base alcohols, and once bartenders began deemphasizing vermouth, producers of those aperitifs changed their formulas, incorporating less flavorful wines. Not surprisingly, the quality of vermouth dropped precipitously.
Within the last decade or two, however, a number of boutique vermouth brands have come to market, resuscitating the category and reminding consumers what good vermouth actually tastes like. “We now live in an age where vermouth can carry a cocktail again,” says Adam Ford, the founder of Atsby New York Vermouth who wrote a book dedicated to the aperitif and the drinks that showcase it.
These libations are not only rooted in history and deeply flavorful, they’re also less alcoholic than their contemporary renditions, which makes them ideal choices for the start of a new year. Yes, we know that dry January is a thing — and there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking an extreme approach to a detoxing cleanse — but we’re also firm believers that good health is rooted in moderation. So if you’re aiming for a healthier 2023, but you still like the idea of a real cocktail every now and then, consider any of the following libations, many of which cast vermouth in a leading role.
2 oz. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth
Half a barspoon of simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash of Regans orange bitters
Garnish: lemon twist
Stir all ingredients over ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Express the oils from the lemon twist over the drink, then sit the twist on the edge of the glass.
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth
4 oz. cold seltzer
Garnish: half of an orange wheel
Build in a Highball glass. Start by pouring the Campari and vermouth, add ice cubes and stir for a few seconds. Top off with the seltzer, stir once, then add the orange wheel.
2 oz. dry vermouth (recommended bottles: Atsby Amberthorn, Ransom Dry, Uncouth Dry Hopped or Uncouth Wildflower)
1 oz. gin (recommended Greenhook Ginsmith)
Garnish: lemon twist
Combine the vermouth and gin in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass or martini glass, express the oils form the lemon twist over the drink, and sit the twist on the edge of the glass.
2 oz. sweet vermouth (recommended: Atsby Armadillo Cake)
1 oz. rye whiskey (recommended: Hudson Rye)
1 dash aromatic bitters (recommended: Adam Elmegirab’s Boker’s Bitters)
Garnish: Luxardo cherry
Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe and add the cherry.
2 oz. sweet vermouth (recommended Carpano Antica Formula)
1/2 oz. London dry gin
1/2 oz. orange liqueur (recommended Dry Curacao)
Garnish: orange twist
Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir 5 to 10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with one large cube, express the oils from the orange twist over the drink, and drop the twist into the glass.
Spring Rain (courtesy of Sother Teague and his bar Amor y Amargo in New York City)
2 oz. Amaro Montenegro
.75 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. ginger syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part ginger juice)
Dash of Bittermens Celery Shrub
4 thin slices of cucumber
Combine the first four ingredients plus three cucumber slices in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously to break up the cucumber. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and float the final cucumber slice on top.
Sparkling Starling (courtesy of Sother Teague and his bar Ladybird in New York City)
1 oz. “Bunny Mary” (see recipe below)
Crisp beer, such as a pilsner
Approx. 1 tsp of SSS spice mixture (recipe following Bunny Mary)
Rim a collins glass with SSS, fill with ice and add Bunny Mary. Top up with beer.
8 oz. carrot juice
4 oz. celery juice
2 oz. tarragon vinegar
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
.25 oz. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. celery seeds
Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
1 part Kosher salt
1 part sugar
.5 part paprika
.25 part cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients and store in an air-tight container.