Vermouth is a critical part of negronis. It adds an essential layer of herbaceous sweetness to an otherwise bitter and earthy cocktail. It's a beautiful key balance to the equal parts of Campari and gin. But isn't sweet vermouth all the same? Nope. Every vermouth has its own blend of herbs and spices. Selecting the wrong vermouth isn't the end of the world, but finding the right one, especially for your own personal taste, is a triumph to celebrate. Perhaps with that perfect negroni.
Best Sweet Vermouth for Negroni Cocktails
Don't panic, there's no need to panic. You can still use your tried and true sweet vermouth or grab one of these recommendations if you're feeling brave. If you're curious, read on to learn a little more about each.
1. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Cocchi Vermouth di Torino uses notes of rhubarb and brown sugar to create a delicate yet complex flavor. Its sweet notes are reminiscent of cotton candy, helping to smooth out the bitter edges of the Campari. It won't cost an arm and a leg, either. You can find it for about $20.
The herbs and spices create a balanced sip, the bitter orange playing with cocoa and balsa, rosemary notes lingering until disappearing quickly. It's an earthy, sweet vermouth that finds an excellent balance in cocktails. Don't miss those savory citrus notes that perfectly complete the bitter negroni flavors.
2. Cinzano Rosso - Best of Italian Sweet Vermouth
Crafted in Torino, Cinzano Rosso is made up of rich herbs and spices, slowly infused to create a remarkable taste. It has a delicate flavor of grapes and bitters that linger long after you sip. You'd expect the price to reflect the distance it travels, but you can pick up a bottle for under $10.
The vermouth has hints of vanilla and black cherry, blending well into any negroni. Its smooth taste of citrus and orange complements the bitter Campari, the slight bitterness of its own adding to the flavors to balance out its sweetness. This sweet vermouth is so smooth and bold, you can even sip it on its own.
3. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth offers a more floral tasting vermouth compared to its herb-forward counterparts. However, it has a menagerie of oddly composed ingredients that work together to make a distinct vermouth. Such ingredients include saffron, wormwood, and burnt sugar. Expect to pay around $35. Such a unique and singular style means this price is more than justifiable.
On the palate, you'll taste almonds, raisins, and cloves that have a playful excursion when mixed into a negroni. It's an unusual flavor profile that makes for a pleasant surprise, with each sip a journey. Allow yourself to take that first step out the door into a vermouth of floral vanilla.
4. Carpano Punt E Mes
Carpano Punt E Mes vermouth starts characteristically sweet, as you would expect, then moves into a drier taste with a prominent orange zest weaving through to sweeten things up. The lingering flavor starts bitter but ends with the characteristic taste of sweet vermouths. Branch out from your usual vermouth in favor of this $25 pick. It's gorgeous and holds up when mixed in cocktails, but feel free to sample a taste on its own as well. It's a quietly bold flavor that isn't lost no matter how it's mixed. A best-of-both-worlds vermouth, the dry orange flavors will soothe.
5. Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif
Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif has a distinct red wine base, giving it a rich and balanced profile from the very start. And, it's something new to explore in your regular negroni. It's infused with flavors of blackcurrant, a variety of teas, and other herbs and spices to create a rich and complex palate. Put the big bills back in your wallet, though. You'll pay under $15.
The recipe calls for tree bark, adding a hint of dry tannins to balance out the overall sweetness that's derived from cane sugar. It's a bold vermouth that won't get lost in the cocktail. Lean into the red wine flavors for a well-balanced, gently sweet experience.
6. Antica Torino Rosso Vermouth
Made with wormwood, as most traditional vermouths are, what Antica Torino has done well is perfected their recipe of 13 botanicals, a list which has remained a secret known only to the family. A bottle costs around $30, but for a recipe like this, don't think twice.
The recipe has remained unchanged, rightfully, for over 100 years. It has a complex, sweet, and deep flavor, with notes of citrus and rhubarb weaving through the spices and herbs. The taste of rhubarb lingers, mingling with ginger and vanilla for good measure.
Some Vermouth for Thought
Vermouth shouldn't steal the show in your negroni - unless that's what you're going for. But it also shouldn't detract from the overall experience. It's not an impossible riddle to solve. We live in a world with a vast selection, so finding the best vermouth for your negroni can feel like sorting through similar puzzle pieces. Luckily, there are plenty of good choices that will fit any taste or wallet. All that's left is to pick yours.