Vermouth is a wine, not a spirit. Ever wondered why you would drink it neat? »

It's a question answered in The Book of Vermouth

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<i>The Book of Vermouth</i> by Shaun Byrne and Gilles Lapalus

The Book of Vermouth by Shaun Byrne and Gilles Lapalus [©Hardie-Grant]

Andy Griffiths, <i>Book of Vermouth</i>


Bartender Shaun Byrne and winemaker Giles Lapalus celebrate the world's greatest – and perhaps most misunderstood – aperitif in their new book, The Book of Vermouth.

It's a comprehensive look at a what is not as commonly thought a spirit, but a wine, and includes its surprisingly long history in Australia.

There's also a background on the essentials of vermouth itself: grape varieties, botanicals and the key ingredient, wormwood. Of course it wouldn't be complete without over 100 recipes to make the most of this integral part of many cocktails.

But to start your vermouth adventure Shaun Byrne explains why you should try drinking vermouth neat to at least understand its diverse flavours. He writes:

When I started making vermouth, my reference point was not aromatised wine, but sherry. It is usually drunk neat, and my approach to drinking vermouth is the same.

Like the sherries from the Jerez region of Spain, vermouth is best served chilled, so it is important to keep it refrigerated. As with any other wine, temperature changes the way we perceive a vermouth’s flavours, with colder temperatures reducing the perception of sweetness and increasing the perception of acidity and tannin.

Served at the right temperature, without any ice, vermouth drunk neat can shine as an aperitif and is excellent paired with any course of a meal, as we will discover here.

Another reason to drink vermouth neat is to heighten the experience of the botanicals’ aromatics. Just like wine, vermouth develops in the glass. From the first ‘nose’ when it is initially poured, to after aeration, its aromatic profile changes significantly, revealing different aromas.

The only way to immerse yourself in this rich ‘bouquet’ is to serve vermouth on its own in the perfect glass. 

Respected Mebourne bartender Andy Griffiths (pictured), says in recent years neat vermouth has made a comeback as an aperitif.

Read more about The Book of Vermouth here »


This extract from The Book of Vermouth by Shaun Byrne and Giles Lapalus is reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher.

The Book of Vermouth by Shaun Byrne and Giles Lapalus is published by Hardie Grant Books (Melb, Vic; Jul 2018; Hb; 208pp RRP A$39.99). It is available at good bookshops and can be purchased online via »

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September 25th, 2018
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