Old meets new

30 May, 2017


And the craft movement in vermouth has, in keeping with trends in other drinks, led to even the biggest producers looking at their brands in a new light.

Ignacio Vazquez, global brand director for Bacardi-owned Martini, says: “Craft is a trend happening across all categories. Consumers and bartenders are looking to find something unique and that’s not well known. There’s an element of personal discovery and there needs to be a strong authentic story.

“We are the leader by far and it does affect us in a positive way. It pushes us, makes us get on our toes and create something really authentic. Because of that we have crafted a product called Riserva Speciale, inspired by old recipes, using traditional methods such as resurrecting old Pinot casks.”

The latest range carries a Vermouth di Torino classification and has two variants – Rubino, which is made by blending small parcels of Langhe DOC Nebbiolo wines with extracts of Italian holy thistle and red sandalwood from Central Africa, and Ambrato, with Moscato d’Asti DOCG wines, yellow cinchona bark from Ecuador and Chinese rhubarb.

Vazquez says that today’s consumers are looking for more than just a drink, they are seeking an experience, which is why Martini has been busy creating pop-up ‘vermoutherias’ at events such as the Venice Bar Show and Tales of the Cocktail in Edinburgh. “Instead of looking backwards we give a twist in terms of looking at the future. We are creating lots of expressions of classic cocktails.”

Indeed, Duff says this is key to driving consumption with cocktails far and away the biggest trend: “The big hitters are Negronis, Manhattans and (wet) Martinis, followed by a host of classics and neo-classics – the Bijou, the Vieux Carre, Martinez, Brooklyn, Bamboo, and so on. The Americano has seen a resurgence too, as the vermouth long drink. I’d really love to see more vermouth long drinks – such as with ginger ale or bitter lemon – but I’m not seeing that gain traction. Yet.”

However, vermouth and tonic has proven a popular serve – for Regal Rogue’s Ward it’s the global serve and Martini’s Vazquez says the simple serve of half Martini and half tonic served with tonic, a slice of orange and ice is currently on-trend across Europe. It also works for Italian bartender Giancarlo Mancino, who recently launched an eponymous brand to challenge vermouths that he felt “lacked depth and charisma”.

Mancino says: “I was I was super-upset that the classic liquid products were going down and down in quality. About eight years ago people started realising that they could not mix any more with the big brands because the weakness of the vermouth was like pouring water into the drink.

“For me it has to be Italian, Spanish or French. It’s the traditions that make the liquid. Some producers are not using Italian wine. They are using botanicals from Thailand, India and Cambodia. If you buy cheap vanilla it’s not going to be very good.”

He adds: “We now push vermouth and tonic. The trend is for lower abv. Consumers want something a bit healthier with less sugar and more wine.”

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