Want to add a bit of botanical spice to life? This fortified wine flavoured with herbs and spices should be a staple in your liquor cabinet.
Vermouth is great as an aperitif (served straight, on the rocks or with a twist of citrus) and makes its way into cocktails including the martini (usually dry vermouth), Manhattan (sweet vermouth), negroni, the Gibson and the Brooklyn.
As with anything, the perfect measure depends on your taste or a bartender's mood. During warmer months, it's great with soda water and ice. There are plenty of exciting Australian-made vermouths on the market. Give these a whirl.
The Gospel x Noisy Ritual Pinot Noir Vermouth, Vic, $39
Love being first cab off the new release rank? This collaboration between The Gospel Distillers and Melbourne's urban winery Noisy Ritual is released on Wednesday, July 27. The beautifully balanced, cockle-warming drop was made with pinot noir fruit (barrel-rested in ex-rye whiskey barrels), which gives it a toasty, comforting edge. Lovely on its lonesome, preferably while curled up on a beanbag, fire roaring. Get in line (online) from 8.30am tomorrow. 18 per cent alcohol. Find it at thegospelwhiskey.com
Maidenii Nocturne Vin Amer, Vic, $69.95
As aperitifs go, this limited release ticks all the boxes. It is bitter, simultaneously sweet and earthy – thanks to Yarra Valley black truffles. The mature base wine from Central Victoria uses wormwood and no fewer than nine Aussie botanicals. Maidenii is a collab between French winemaker Gilles Lapalus (winemaker at Sutton Grange) and Melbourne-based mixologist Shaun Byrne. Standing ovation for you, boys; this is a stunner. 21.5 per cent alcohol. Find it at wine merchants and maidenii.com.au
Turkey Flat Quinquina, Barossa, SA, $40
An encounter with this Australian vermouth is unforgettable. Like the emu illustration on the label, it is a curious drop. The aromatic quinine wine is devilishly bitter (quinine is a headbangingly bitter compound derived from cinchona bark) and made using Marsanne fruit. Bang it in a large glass full of ice with a wedge of orange for an intense citrus experience. Turkey Flat has more planned on the vermouth horizon so keep your eye on socials for updates. 21 per cent alcohol. Find it at eastendcellars.com.au and turkeyflat.com.au