The Liquorists: Vermouth and Aromatised wines

Vermouth and Aromatised wines – hosted by Lillet

Following on from the hugely enjoyable Bourbon and American Whisky session held at the Blackdog Ballroom, The Liquorists moved on to Vermouth and Aromatised wines. The Liquorists were more than happy to be returning to their spiritual roots at Socio Rehab, with many thanks to Tom Vernon for covering a late venue change due to a small unpleasantness. So there we were, the sun was blazing hot, moods were high, The Liquorists were furtively looking over their shoulder, for this good luck was doomed to wither like a half hearted erection, or Greece’s economic recovery.

It's Lillet, innit?

But lo and verily, it did change, for the better. The loquacious and lugubrious Paul Mason turned up with some red headed French girl and a shit load of booze, my favourite combination. My sainted aunt, can this day continue like this…?

So we got involved, up to our back wheels some may say.

Chilled Lillet and stimulating conversation, a match if not made in heaven, then perhaps in Bordeaux, under the Gallic sun, wistfully dreaming of a lost love, or a great hand ball – Merci Thierry, merci!!

The Liquorists had called in favours from all its chums, not the usual request or demand;

“Excuse me sir, ‘tis the Liquorists here, yes them ones, now listen ‘ere….. We require booze from you sir. Vermouth, ….no, vermouth…….no, vermouth please,….v-e-r…”

It came from the woodwork of the Bacardi training team, (Thanks Ben), Speciality brands (thanks Skip), J Wray and Nephew, (thanks Adam) and Blavod……….. i know, they do punt e mes by the way!! As well as personal stashes and of course our hosts Lillet.

And so we began, the gorgeous Frenchie who came to win or hearts and minds amongst other things was Marion, aaaah  Marion.  She spoke ably and simply about what we bartenders want to hear, the History, the Provenance, the Method and the Madness, all the while drinking ice cold Lillet.

The brand is looking to regain its place in our hearts by reminding us that it is not merely the third ingredient in a vesper, or a corpse reviver number 2. It is a delicious, refreshing, sweet and sumptuous aperitif, and deserves to be drunk as such, its combination of wine (85%) and fruit liqueurs(15%) and the delectable mouthfeel and texture mean it went down awfully well.

Think good quality dessert wine, with a citrus shadow.

The cocktail competition loomed expectantly, driving us all with the aspiration of success yet for most a terrible, terrible defeat, full of shame in front of our peers and smouldering resentment in our eyes. Nah, not really, The Liquorists believe that the craft of creating a drink deserves respect sure, but it should  be done in a relaxed environment, safe behind the veneer of the blind tasting panel, no pressure, no ‘big names’ stealing the show with a substandard drink and honeyed tongue. All about the drink, all about the flavour. The Specs are at the bottom of this page should you wish to recreate.

The leader board shows Ian Melville to have taken first place with his ‘Oui Wee’, sorry mate great drink but wank name, Tom Vernon took a second consecutive second place with his Dublin Minstrel and Dutch Barry scooped a second third place with his home made cream soda concoction, he makes em crazy!!!

We Then Moved onto The Liquorists signature comparative tasting, nearly 20 bottled of vermouth and aromatised wined were gathered, Noilly prat, Martini, Gancia, Carpano, Antica Formula, Dolin de Chambery, Chamberyzette, Picon Amer, Dubonnet, Lillet Blanc and Rouge and J wray and Nephew red label tonic wine!!! (amazing, like ribena, maybe not selling it to geeks but fuck it), Tom Vernon took us through his fantastic knowledge on the category and was both informative and interesting, a natural. Much was gleaned from the talks of Marion and Tom, and our thanks go out to them.

Sometimes I find Tim Barnes really pouring.

The Liquorists chose this category because vermouth is poorly understood at the best of times, but these products are at the heart of some of bartenders favourite drinks, it is time we looked at the product inside the bottle not the label outside, to understand the HUGE difference between a Bianco Italian and a Rouge French Vin Aromatisse, between a dry French and a rich spicy bitter Italian sweet, and pick the right one not just the closest.

Point to remember:

Vermouth and other aromatised wines are LIVE products. They will not stand up to prolonged heat, or sunlight, they deserve refrigerating and using within a month. They can still be drunk, otherwise old Sybil would be knocked sick every time she has that martini extra dry and lemonade every third Friday down the legion, but they change, and not for the better. So….chill it, and drink it. Rant over…. x

Next up is the Gincident on the Barge on the 29th June. Ian Mclaren and Craig Harper are taking the independent session, and The Liquorists cannot wait!!

Vermouth and Aromatised wines – Lillet cocktail competition specs

Ian ‘Justin’ Melville

‘Oui Wee’

  • 25 ml Santa Teresa Rhum orange
  • 25ml Blue moon Ale
  • 2 dsh angostura bitters
  • 35 ml Lillet Blanc

Shaken and served cobbler style. Flamed orange zest garnish.

Tom ‘supermodel’ Vernon

‘Dublin Minstrel’

  • 25ml Lillet Blanc
  • 37.5ml Miller gin
  • 10ml Maraschino
  • 10ml Wild nettle cordial

Shake and double strain into a chilled absinthe rinsed Delmonico glass with an atomisation of green chartreuse. Garnish with a white rose

Barry ‘lekker dutchie’ Van Goethem

‘Clementine, show me your roots!’

  • Juice of 1 and a half clementines
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • 1 bar spoon caster sugar
  • 30 Lillet Blanc
  • 20ml Bols Jenever

Shake and strain into a root beer rinsed glass, top with home made cream soda. Clementine fan garnish