The most recent batch, lovingly called Dumpster Fire, is an appropriate ode to 2020.

By Maria Yagoda
January 22, 2021
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You might think that a spirit called "Garbage Juice" wouldn't sell, but you would be wrong. At Philadelphia's Bloomsday Café, a line of craft vermouths born during the pandemic has garnered a devoted following, with releases that sell out quicker than Bruce Springsteen tickets.

Credit: Zachary Morris

On Friday at midnight, when the restaurant dropped its fifth and most recent batch—called "Dumpster Fire 2020"—the entire line of bottles and cans sold out within hours. While humorously named, the vermouth is no joke: This batch featured an impressive array of local ingredients including Green Meadow Farm wormwood, persimmon, and Concord grape skins, plus botanicals from Penn Herb Co. (If you weren't quick enough this round, co-owner Zachary Morris promises another "much larger" batch of Dumpster Juice that should be ready in a few weeks.)

Vermouth, a fortified wine aromatized with spices and botanicals, makes a perfect dumping ground for leftover ingredients. As Morris told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Wherever you have a wine industry, you have vermouth, because it is a way of preserving waste products."

Credit: Zachary Morris

The inspiration for the Garbage Juice vermouths are entirely ingredient-driven, and so they change with the seasons.

"It's seasonal, as cliche at that sounds," Morris tells Food & Wine. He says he uses whatever ingredients Ian Brendle of Green Meadow Farm gets excited about. "He's got lots of unusual things growing on his farm and he taps into his friends and neighbors too for even more oddities. He gets so excited about ingredients, and it gets us charged up too!"

The local response to the Dumpster Juice vermouth series, which launched in May 2020, has been wildly enthusiastic and is only continuing to grow. Batch drops are announced on Instagram, where you can reserve bottles and cans at Bloomsday Café and its bottle shop, Fancy Wine Shop, in Philadelphia's Society Hill neighborhood.

"You know when you meet a bunch of strangers that are interested in the same fringe pursuit that you are? That's what it's been like," Morris said. "I adore vermouth. I think about it all the time and I drink it all the time. And people are coming out of the woodwork, all walks of life, to come visit us and let us know that how much they love it too."