It’s not often enough that Americans appreciate vermouth as a drink in its own right—as more than an ingredient in a martini or a rich pan sauce. Though, obviously, we couldn’t live without it for those two purposes. The beauty of this aromatized, fortified wine is how many wonders it can work, in drinks and in cooking alike.
In Italy, France, and Spain, vermouth is more often elevated to the star of the show, especially when it’s enjoyed as an aperitif. Drinkers frequent vermuterias (vermouth bars) before lunch, where they socialize over light snacks like olives, tinned fish, and cheese, and sip vermouth in many forms. That might be neat, over ice, as a spritz, with a splash of gin, or with soda. Think of the whole ritual as a better alternative to brunch.
Little to nothing is required to incorporate a bit of this lifestyle into your week, wherever you might live. Take this super simple vermouth spritz recipe in New York Times Cooking, which requires nothing but vermouth, soda water, and a citrus twist or olive.
As vermouth increases in popularity beyond Europe, winemakers and vendors are beginning to offer it in ready-to-drink formats.
This is part of the mission for Enrique Pallares, co-founder of The Wine Collective—a group of East Coast winemakers. The collective also has its own bar, where guests can try house-made wine, snacks and charcuterie, or vermouth on tap. Now, the Wine Collective has put out its own canned vermouth, and is planning to release other versions, as well.
“My purpose in life is to teach America how to drink vermouth,” says Pallares with a laugh. “I’ve thought a lot about this. There’s a renewed interest in the south European way of life. Like the health of the Mediterranean diet. And cultures that don’t live to work, but work to live. More people are asking, well, why can’t we do that here?”
One appeal of this canned cocktail is that high-quality, low-ABV beverages, which are on the rise, enable a style of drinking that is pleasurable and low-key but doesn’t feel destructive to the body.
Another advantage of this up-and-coming beverage is its versatility. Sure, you can bring a ready-to-drink spritz to a party and drink it straight from the can, but you can also enjoy it in a glass with a shot of gin, or serve it on the rocks in a highball glass with a splash of Campari and an orange peel for an impromptu Americano.
These are some of the best canned vermouths that are coming out right now.