vermouth and bitters

Aromatized wines

Aromatized wine is a kind of wine made by infusing herbs and other ingredients into a bland wine.
Fortified wines flavoured with herbs, roots, flowers, barks, spices, clove, ginger, myrtle, sandalwood and many other natural ingredients in order to change the flavour of wine.
Hippocras, the aromatized wine of Hippocrates, was spiced and sweetened with honey, was a favorite drink in England till Romans came. The Romans liked to flavour their drink with materials like pepper, spikewood, cypress, wormwood, poppy, tar, bitumen, aloes, chalk, gums, asafoetida etc.
Aromatized wines include the most familiar Vermouths i.e. Dry (French origin) and Sweet (Italian origin), the quinined are Aperitifs wines of various countries. All including vermouths are aperitifs from the Latin APERIO, meaning, "to open".
The name Vermouth originated in a French spelling of Vermut, the German for Artemesia Absinthium, or wormwood, a bitter flavouring. Wormwood in German is Wermutt, which was, pronounced Vermutt, hence the origin of modern name.
Aromatized wines are unlike all other wines in that there are no vintages, no defined area and no strict rules for production.
The first Italian Vermouth was produced in Turin (In Piedmont, northwest Italy)'in 1786 by Antonio Carpono. It survives today as Punt E Mes. Italian Vermouth is made chiefly around Turin and also in Sicily from blends of different wines, fortified by fine alcohol and except in case of the dry white vermouths, pure sugar. To this base are added infusions of herbs, roots, fruits such Orange, Angelica, Gentian, Wormwood, Coriander, Cinnamon etc. The delicate flavour of Italian Vermouth is due t o these flavourings, familiarly known as " It" — the partner of Gin - and — "it": which name exolains itself, i.e. (Gin and Sweet Martini).

Manufacturing Process

The wines obtained from Herault containing 12-14 % alcohol are stored in thick oak vats called Demi Muids. This wine obtained so, dry white wine is used for making Vermouth. Vermouth is made from white wine (dry) and is sweetened with Mistelle  or Vin De Liqueur. Mistelle is obtained by addition of Muscat or Grenache grape juice that has been prevented from becoming completely fermented by fortification. The blend, a mixture of 80% Herault Wine and 20% Mistelle is known as Basic wine. The basic wine is infused with various herbs and flavourings in a large tank for a month. After one month this basic wine acquires the flavour of herbs, plants, roots etc, is drawn off is called infused wine.
Now infused wine and new basic wine are mixed in a ratio of 1:5 and alcohol is added to raise the strength of wine to 19%. The mixture is allowed to blend and put into glass lined vats for purpose of freezing. Giant paddles are used for thorough blending, Freezing helps in crystallization of tartaric acid, later forms a deposit called cream of tartar which is removed. Vermouth becomes darker as it ages. Sometimes to get uniform colouring caramel may be added.
French vermouth is traditionally white and dry while Italian is sweet and red. Both French and Italian vermouths are made from white wines but Italian Vermouth is sweet because the basic wine used for making Italian vermouth is sweet.
Italian vermouth must contain not less than 70 per cent of natural wine, 15.5 per cent of alcohol and 12 per cent of sugar if sweet, not less than 18 per cent of alcohol and not more than 4 per cent sugar if dry.

Saint Raphel
Noilly Prat
Lillet (White and Rose)
Punt E Mes


Bitters are spirit based aromatic mixtures which have been infused with a variety of botanicals such as seeds, roots, leaves, fruits, barks and stems etc. They are all proprietary brands. They have flavour of quinine, that's why the bitter taste. Once they were more known for their medicinal qualities rather than other uses. Nowadays they are used as flavour catalyst and enhancers in mixed drinks. A few of bitters famous as aperitifs are Amer Picon and Campari rather than miniscule ingredients for mixed drinks.

There are some old famous bitters like Boker's and Abbott's not easily available, but very important as they have valuable space in the world of mixology or mixed drinks.
1.Abbotts Bitters: This is used in mixed drinks prepared by the C. W. Abbott Co. of Baltimore, Maryland. The recipe is closely guarded formula.
2.Amer Picon: It is a French bitter having flavour of cinchona, bark, oranges, and genitan light red in colour served as an aperetif. It is brandy based can be consumed neat or mixed with vermouth, a dash of grenadine or a soft drink. It is made by Picon and Co. at Levallois Perret in France.
3.Angoustra Bitters: It comes from Trinidad, introduced in 1824 from a recipe developed by a surgeon, Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, who served in the Prussian army under Marshal Blucher at the battle of Waterloo. It was made in Venezuela in a town then called Angoustra (now called Cuidad Bolivar). It is named after the town. This drink was given to soldiers for curing malaria. The base of Angoustra is rum and flavour quinine which is reduced by addition of herbs and genitan. It is brownish red in colour used as a flavouring in Pink Gin, Manhattan cocktail, champagne cocktail.
4.Boker 's Bitters: This is a famous old name in aromatic bitters. It is not wide in distribution.
5.Bonne Kamp Bitters: Dutch bitter used by Europeans introduced in 1743.
6.Calisay: This is a popular Catalcnian specialty made in Barcelona, Spain from Cinchona and other ingredients. It is more commonly served as an aperitif and as a digestif rather than in mixed drinks.
7.Campari: This is a national drink of Italy. It has distinctive brilliant red colour and pungent quinine flavour. Campari is mostly made in Milan. It is an excellent aperitif. It is frequently drunk with soda or tonic water. It is used for making cocktails like Americano I /3rd Campari, 1/3"* sweet vermouth, Negroni etc.
8.China Martini: It is quinine flavoured Italian bitter liqueur having syrupy consistency manufactured by Martini and Rossi. It is used as an aperitif and an after dinner drink. It is rarely used in cocktails.
9.Fernet Branca: It is strong Italian brand of bitters brewed from mixed herbs (40% alc/vol) like cinchona bark, genitan, rhubarb, calamus, angelica, myrrh, camomile and pepper mint. It is dark brown in colour. It is used as an apentif to stimulate flagging appetites and also as pick me up and hangover remedy. It is good for stomach aches. It is usually served straight or with soda.
10.Jaegermeister: A famous German bitter comprising of 56 herbs, roots, and fruits very much aromtic. It was introduced in 1878. It is taken as aperitif or an after dinner drink, it may be used for some cocktails.
11.Orange Bitters : It originated in England and became very popular during World War for making cocktails. It is produced from spirit flavoured with Seville orange peel. The famous brand names are Field, Son and Co. and Holloway's orange.
12.Peychauds Bitters : It is proprietary bitter, a family recipe of Antoine Amedee peychaud, a young French Creole. Peychaud a druggist made his bitters famous in Louisiana, U.S.A. by mixing with cognac. It has bitter anise flavour. It was later sold commercially by the L.E Jung and Wulff Co.
13.Stonsdorfer :This is a German proprietary bitter popular as a digestif.
14.Underberg: Well known German bitter made from herbs and roots taken as tonic and digestif both. It tastes like iodine. It can be can taken as pick me up with soda. It is reputed to work wonders in ameliorating hangovers and calming; the morning after "clangs".
15.Unicum : Hungarian bitter made since 1840 by Venersable Viennese firm of Zwack, more famous for their outstanding fruit brandies.
16.Peach bitter : It is produced from spirit flavoured with peaches used in mixed drinks or cocktails.


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