Where (and why) to drink vermouth in Portland this holiday season


Reheat the spices boil in the cider. Lemon zest soaked in hot whiskey. The raisins and orange zest soon macerate in mulled wine. Infused drinks have their time every fall, and this year we recommend an often overlooked member of that family: vermouth.

Vermouth is a fortified and flavored wine. Simply put: it’s well-boiled wine tea. Adding liquor to wine is what fortifies (or strengthens) the drink. The infusion of herbs, bark, flowers, roots, stems – anything found in an alpine meadow – is what makes this drink flavorful.

Although manufacturers have fortified and bitter medicinal drinks for centuries, the qualities associated with modern vermouths began to appear in the 18th century in Turin, Italy. As iterations of the drink headed west in France and Spain, the category evolved to include a dry white version. Now, the vermouth includes sweet whites and nutty ambers and crushable rosé vermuts to drink all day.

In the United States, vermouth is still best known for its supporting role in cocktails, but some Portland hangouts highlight the appetizer for its own merits.

Lady: Natural Vermouth

Vermouth is the antithesis of hands off. Instead of adding nothing to a wine, vermouth makers can add up to 30 herbs. Dame is known for its natural wines, which is why she offers Muz, a bottle that contradicts itself as “natural vermut”. It’s made in Spain by two Italian winemakers who added a classic Turin spice blend to grapes from abandoned Catalonia vineyards. It’s a cloudy plum color, a scent of oregano and a sip like a sparkling stale cranberry.

Muz sits on Dame’s menu alongside four other vermouths, like a Scarpa cheese blanc and the bitter red Vergano Americano – which tastes like a witch making soup out of a forest floor. Locally made vermouth, Straightaway’s sweet Accompani red is so new it’s not yet on the menu. Infused with Southeast Portland, Accompani has bitter notes that akin to classic Italian offerings and is characterized by a high cocoa content.

Glasses range from $ 8 to $ 10.

Urdaneta: Spanish vermouth

As with Urdaneta’s pintxos, the restaurant’s 10 vermouth offerings are steeped in Spanish tradition with an eye on modernity.

The five white options include Atxa, a Basque vermouth with a taste of lemon drops and Parmesan zest. It’s extra salty from grapes grown near the Atlantic. Alma de Trabanco tastes like the charoset of the Passover. The bright yellow drink is a blend of white vermouth and Spanish cider, a nod to the Trabanco family tradition of pouring sour cider into sweet vermouth at dinner.

On the red side, there’s the Primitivo Quiles, which tastes like a strawberry DumDum. Lustau, a red sherry aged in cask, has a warm nutty flavor.

While the Urdaneta team will tell you that Spanish vermouth is less bitter than Italian, a newly imported offering from BCN is a tongue puller full of thyme, medicinal roots, and burnt bark. If you like fernet, you will love this.

For $ 14, you can choose a flight of three or let the team take the reins.

OK Omens: Vermouth for wine lovers

The tight and intentional selection of vermouth at OK Omens is what one would expect from such a wine-focused restaurant. Bar manager Johnny Reinert reminds drinkers that before wormwood, gentian and rose hips are bitter fortified wine, good vermouth begins with good grapes.

There are five rotating vermouth options, and Reinert is happy to provide an overview of the grapes crushed each mix of roots and plants. He will explain to you how special it is that Fred Jerbis red is made from nebbiolo grapes from old vines that survived the 19th century phylloxera plague. Or that when you taste the salinity of Bordiga Rosso di Torino, this salinity is not added by the vermouth; this is due to the grape variety, location or altitude.

“As with wine, it comes back to the terroir,” says Reinert.

Worms at OK Omens cost $ 8 a pop.

Cooperative: Tour de Vermut

New to the menu at Pearl’s Italian Market, the Flying World Vermut Tour comes with three 3-ounce glasses to remind drinkers that, to quote bar manager John Schmeck, “really killer vermouths” are made internationally. and national. Alongside the Spanish rosé vermut Lustau and the red vermouth Cnia Mata, Cooperativa offers the “Someday” vermouth from Son of Man. Made with Basque-style Sagardo Cider, brewed at Cascade Locks, this dry white distorts the vermouth category, a category known to have few requirements other than being made with wine. The cloudy yellow bottle contains tangy sips of kumquat and rhubarb.

If drinkers want to opt out of the guided experience, all they have to do is examine the top shelf of the refrigerator behind the bar. It’s filled with quality vermouths, like the red and white options from vermouth house La Canellese in northern Italy. These, along with a few other aperitifs, are also sold in bottles on the market.

The Cooperativa World Vermut Tour will set you back $ 12.

Midnight Society: Vermut de la Casa

Wander the streets of Spain and you will find casa vermut sitting on top of the bars in oversized mason jars. When it comes to an option, casa vermut is the best and cheapest choice and is definitely not FDA approved.

Closest to Portland’s homemade homemade vermouth is behind the U-shaped bar of the Midnight Society. Co-owner and bartender Estanislado Orona prepares two mixes of secret menus. The white combines Dolin Dry and Myrrha Blanco from Padró & Co. with a saline solution to give the sweet and nutty mixture a flavor, like sour verjuice. The red is a mix of Dolin and Cocchi Storico reds, put on cocoa nibs for a week. The first sip is cherry cola and fudge. Softening on ice, cloves and bananas come out.

If you ask for a drink, it will be $ 6, served over ice with a twist.

About Jimmie T.

Check Also

Understanding Biden’s options on student loan forgiveness

Placeholder while loading article actions President Joe Biden has considered canceling some government student loan …