Millions of people all over the world enjoy vermouth. Even if you’d think that you haven’t heard about such alcoholic drink, you’d be wrong because the legendary martini is also vermouth. We’ll go over a recipe for a homemade martini from wine, herbs, alcohol, and sugar. This imitation is very close to the original.
Vermouth technology. All vermouths are made following the same method. Frist, the herbs are infused with alcohol (usually grape alcohol) for about a week. The obtained essence is filtered and mixed with a prefabricated wine (cleared and aged). Then sugar or syrup is added. Sometimes pure alcohol is used instead of sugar in order to increase martini’s ABV. After this, vermouth is heated to a high temperature, cooled down, filtered, and bottled. The last step is aging.
The same technology allows producers all over the world make vermouth with a unique taste. It’s all about the ingredients and herbs proportions. Some recipes use more than 200 types of herbs. The list of herbs used for a homemade martini is much more humble, but by experimenting with the ingredients and their quantity you’ll be able to create your own unique vermouth. Just don’t forget to include wormwood—it’s the cornerstone of each vermouth.
I suggest using kitchen scales to accurately weigh the herbs. Cups, spoons, and shot glasses won’t be helpful.
- Wine (white or red) – 1 liter
- Sugar – 50-150 grams (optional)
- Vodka (alcohol 40-45%) – 250 ml
- Dried wormwood (flowers or upper leaves) – 3 grams
- Milfoil (flowers or grass) – 4 grams
- Cinnamon (in sticks) – 3 grams
- Cardamom – 2 grams
- Saffron – 1 gram
- Nutmeg – 1 gram
- Chamomile – 2 grams
- Peppermint leaves – 2 grams
- Lemon zest – 2 grams
- Fennel – 1 grams
You can exclude any herbs from this list but keep wormwood because it is responsible for the recognizable flavor of vermouth. Although, if you can obtain white genepi, it’s better than common wormwood, which is quite bitter.
It’s better to use inexpensive dry wine. Homemade wines are fine too. Vermouths are traditionally made with white wines, but for several years red wines have been popular in Europe. There’s even a new “Catalan style” which is attributed to vermouths made with red wine.
The amount of sugar depends on your preferences and the type of wine used (dry, semi-dry or sweet). In any case, it is recommended to use at least 50 grams of sugar, so that the drink is not too bitter.
To make your homemade vermouth taste like the original even more, use grape alcohol, brandy, cognac, chacha or grappa instead of vodka. Use moonshine as a last resort.
Classic Homemade Vermouth (Martini) Recipe
- Crush cinnamon and cardamom with a wooden rolling pin. Put all the herbs in a fermentation container. Pour them over with vodka or ethanol and stir.
- Seal the container with a cap. Leave for 10-14 days in a dark place at room temperature. Shake the container once a day.
- Strain the herbal infusion through 2-3 layers of cheesecloth, squeeze the herbs. Before mixing leave the liquid part in a sealed vessel for 2-3 hours until the setting of sediment.
The obtained essence is enough for 2 liters of vermouth. Use half of it from now on. This recipe is made this way because weighing and infusing a smaller amount of herbs is very difficult.
- Decant the wine into an enamel cooking pot. Add sugar and 125 ml of the herbal infusion and then stir.
If the drink turns out too bitter, you can add more sugar or alcohol.
- Heat the mixture to 60-70°C, occasionally stirring. Then take it off the stove and cool to room temperature. Strain it once sediment settles. Heating (stabilization) is a mandatory step in the industrial vermouth technology. Thanks to heating the herbal infusion and sugar dissolve better in wine.
- Bottle your homemade vermouth for storing and hermetically seal it with corks. Age the drink in a fridge or cellar for at least 15-20 days to let the taste stabilize (the longer, the better). The optimal time is 2-3 months.
Thanks to alcohol vermouths are stored much better than ordinary wines. Its shelf-life is up to 5 years. Its ABV depends on the chosen wine and amount of sugar. Usually, it’s 14-17%.