I've been a fan of Manhattans for a while now, and in the last two years have even come around on Martinis and a range of other similar mixed drinks. But even as I've experimented with a wide range of whiskeys, vodkas and gins (home-infused and not), and gone so far as to make my own bitters (I'll get around to posting on that one fo these days...), the vermouth has remained the standard off-the-shelf variety. Mostly, because that's about all that's available.
But on a recent visit to 3Cups, I overheard Matt S. extolling the virtues of their (recently-added) AOC Vermouth, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry. Intrigued, I interrogated further and learned that the staff had done a taste test with the Vermouth, on ice, by itself – and that it'd passed with flying colors. Say no more! I picked up a bottle of the Dry and of the Blanc (sweet and white – never even heard of such a beast before) – they were out of the Rouge – and prepared to give them a test-run that evening when B. and S. came over for dinner.
First, tasting straight-up, chilled.
Round 1: Taste Test
Dry: incredibly delicate and tasty, herbal with a nice bitter finish but not parched. Really does make a great apertif.
Sweet: fuller palette, still nice herbal flavors but pops a little more without being saccharine in the way your normally think of sweet vermouth.
Round 2: Cocktails
Lately, Perfect Manhattans have been my cocktail of choice and this seemed like a perfect (ha!) opportunity to really put these vermouths through their paces.
Perfect Manhattan a la Carrboro
2 oz. Pendleton Blended Canadian Whisky
1/4 oz. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Dry
1/4 oz. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Blanc
Dash herbal-citrus bitters
Dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Add to shaker over ice; shake vigorously and strain into glass
Maybe the best Manhattan I've ever had: balanced, delicate, flavorful with herbal, caramel, vanilla tones all melding together in an absurdly smooth drink. Obviously I can't speak highly enough of the Dolin – totally converted, and can't wait to pick up a bottle of the Rouge.