The name “vermouth” is the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut for wormwood that has been used as an ingredient in the drink over its history. Fortified wines containing wormwood as a principal ingredient existed in Germany around the 16th century. At about this time, an Italian merchant named D’Alessio began producing a similar product in Piedmont as a “wormwood wine”. Over time, two distinct versions of vermouth became established, one pale, dry, and bitter, and the other red and sweeter. By the late 19th century, vermouth was being used in cocktails. Bartenders found that it was an ideal mixer for many cocktails, including the Manhattan and the precursors to the martini.
Several wine grapes, including Clairette Blanche, Piquepoul, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Catarratto, and Trebbiano, are generally used as the base ingredients for vermouths. From these grapes, low-alcohol white wine is produced and aged for a short while before the addition of other ingredients. For sweet vermouths, sugar syrup is added before the wine is fortified with extra alcohol. The added alcohol is usually a neutral grape spirit. Spice ingredients often used in vermouths include cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, marjoram, chamomile, coriander, juniper, hyssop, ginger, and labdanum. Vermouth Giardino Tradizionale Rosso and Mediterranean Dry have been made with the best ingredients from different regions of Italy: the Italian Alps for Vermouth Giardino Tradizionale, and Sorrento, a beautiful coastal town near Naples in Southern Italy for the Mediterranean Dry. Both vermouths were made in consultation with US-based bartenders and spirits experts Chris Patino and Stacey Swenson of Simple Serve, a unique, bartender-focused brand agency.