Vermouth is easier to make than one might think: It doesn’t require special equipment or impossible-to-find ingredients (Amazon sells wormwood and gentian).
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1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 1/4 cups unaged (clear) brandy, preferably French
2 3/4 cups sugar
4 small rosemary leaves
7 small sage leaves
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon bitter orange peel
2 teaspoons wormwood root
1/2 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
One 1 1/2-inch piece of vanilla bean
Three 750-ml bottles (9 1/2 cups) rosé, preferably Spanish Garnacha
1 cup ruby port
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
How to Make It
In a glass jar or pitcher, cover the sliced strawberries with the brandy and let macerate for 2 days at room temperature; the strawberries should be completely submerged.
Strain the infused brandy through a cheesecloth-lined sieve; discard the strawberries.
In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup of water and cook over moderately low heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and a medium-amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the strawberry-infused brandy; the caramel will harden. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the caramel is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
In a nonreactive medium saucepan, combine the rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, bitter orange peel, wormwood, gentian, ginger, vanilla bean and 3 cups of the rosé. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the port.
Add the infused port and the remaining 61/2 cups of rosé to the strawberry-brandy caramel syrup. Stir in the orange zest and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
Strain the vermouth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Pour into bottles and refrigerate. Serve the vermouth as an aperitif or over ice, or use it in a cocktail.
The vermouth can be refrigerated for 4 months.
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