Whether you choose an Italian, French, white Vermouth, or American Vermouth, first we need to get this question out of the way: what is dry Vermouth anyway?
Vermouth is mistakenly called a liqueur but in fact, it's a wine! More specifically, a fortified wine is often used in dry martinis. Starting with a white wine base, Vermouth makers add their particular recipe of aromatic herbs, roots, tree barks, flowers, seeds, and spices. Once the wine takes on all those botanical flavors and aromas, it is fortified or strengthened with a spirit alcohol to bring the ABV up to 18% on average. Some sugars may be added for the winemaker's particular recipe.
The style of Vermouth we buy today began production in the mid 1700s in Turin, Italy. The first Italian Vermouths were served as aperitifs in a sweet style, but as Vermouth became more popular and migrated towards France, the alpine city of Chambery created a style of dry Vermouth that we use now in classic cocktails.
While it's believed that fortified wines were first used as a medicinal beverage in China around 1000 BC, today there are two primary styles of Vermouth: Sweet Vermouth and Dry Vermouth. Some new styles have been developed like Extra-Dry, Bianco, Amber, and Rosé.
If you aren't already drinking Dry Vermouth and you're a fan of herbaceous, savory, dry, and soft fruity flavors, pick up a few off this list of the best dry vermouths on the market today.
1. Noilly Prat Original Dry
Joseph Noilly's original 1813 formula has intense flavors of sea salt, coriander, chamomile, and orange peel. Noilly Prat has been producing its recipe from the French seaside town of Marseillan since 1850. That seaside influence gives that note of sea salt which is so good in martinis.
2. Dolin Dry
Dolin Dry is produced in the birthplace of French Vermouth: Chambéry. Dolin is a light and fruity style with flavors of citrus, soft florals, and herbs, with a slight bite of white pepper.
3. Carpano Dry
Carpano is known for its Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, which was the very first Vermouth released in 1786! Over 300 years later, Carpano brings us Carpano Dry Vermouth. With flavors of green apple, orange peel, Mediterranean herbs, and fresh lemon, Carpano gives us a set of dry and sweet Vermouth to make a perfect Perfect Manhattan!
4. Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato
Very floral with a strong botanical flavor, Martini Riserva has a balance of bitter from the wormwood and sweet from the apple and chamomile flowers. Try this one in a Negroni as alternative to the usual sweet Vermouth it calls for.
5. Routin Dry
Like Dolin, Routin also comes from Chambéry, but Routin has a softer herbal note to it. Rosemary and juniper berries are balanced with rose petals in this recipe, which immediately makes you think of gin classic cocktails.
6. Cinzano Extra Dry
Cinzano Extra Dry is big on flavors of orange peel combined with clove, mint, oregano, and thyme. This dry vermouth screams for olives and lemon peel twists.
7. La Quintinye Extra Dry Vermouth
This one is a favorite of mixologists for the strong and unique floral notes. This French winemaker's recipe uses a less common grape called Pineau des Charentes as the Vermouth base. You can find dessert wines made from Pineau des Charentes that are delicious.
Mixologists get creative with garnish for this Vermouth, all aimed at bringing out its unique flavor. Anise seeds, fresh rosemary, or a lemon peel twist bring out the herbaceous flavors.
8. Ransom Dry Vermouth
Made in the USA by Orgeon's Ransom Wines and Distillery, this is a real winemaker's Vermouth. Organic white grapes and pinot noir blanc is distilled into brandy. The infused botanicals include rosehips, chamomile, orange peel, lemon verbena, spearmint, star anise, cinnamon bark, burdock root, fennel, wormwood, cardamom, vanilla bean, and lemon peel. The Vermouth is then barrel aged in French oak for it all to come together.
9. Jardesca California Aperitiva
Another American Vermouth worth seeking out is the California produced Jardesca. The exotic floral Viognier grape makes the base wine and is infused with grapefruit, bay leaf, and pink peppercorn among others. Jardesca is made by hand by mad scientist winemakers in Sonoma. And I mean that in the best way possible.
There's fresh acidity to this concoction and aside from some ice and an orange or lemon peel, it doesn't need anything else to be a knockout drink.
10. Cocchi Americano Bianco
A bottle of Cocchi Americano came on the Italian aperitif scene in 1891. Made from Moscato d'Asti wine, cinchona bark, which is rich in quinine, is the main herb used to infuse flavor.
Fun Fact: Quinine, which is what gives tonic water that tonic-y flavor was once used to treat and fight off malaria!
11. Cinzano 1757 Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry
This special, small-batch extra dry Vermouth is a tribute to brothers Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano who founded the Cinzano brand in 1757. You'll get aromas of mint, sage, oregano, and thyme with this Vermouth. There are floral notes of orange blossom balanced with traditional wormwood.