Spirits & Liqueurs Vermouth

The 8 Best Dry Vermouths to Drink in 2021

Beyond a martini ingredient, this floral elixir is more versatile than you think.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Distilled from grapes, infused with botanicals, and amplified with a spirit, the fortified, aromatized wine that is vermouth was first concocted as a sweet product in Italy. It quickly spread to France, where it found its dry expression in the Alpine prefecture of Chambéry.

Though the herbs, spices and other ingredients used to flavor each of these light-colored vermouths are “often shrouded in mystery,” says Max Green, owner-bartender of New York’s Blue Quarter, there is a guiding principle he goes by when choosing one. “First and foremost, I look for it to be dry. It doesn't make it less of a vermouth, but if I'm putting in a cocktail, I want it to be dry.”

But that doesn’t mean it should be like a steely white wine. Sam Nelis, bar director at Vermont's Barr Hill Distillery, “looks for subtle herbal and floral notes and a nice mouthfeel” with a bit of weight for roundness.

Besides adding it to a martini, how does one use this aromatic elixir that straddles spirit and wine? Vermouth is more versatile than you think. Quality vermouths can often be enjoyed on their own, as an aperitif. They can also really shine in a cocktail as the base spirit or as a modifier to magnify all of the other ingredients. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas along with a list of the best dry vermouths to drink right now.

Best Overall: Noilly Prat Original Dry

Noilly Prat Original Dry

Image Source / Reserve Bar

  • Region: France
  • ABV: 18%
  • Tasting Notes: Sea Salt, Coriander, Chamomile, Orange

As Nelis tells it, “A Frenchman from Noilly Pratt went to Italy, enjoyed vermouth, and wanted to put a French twist on it, so he made a drier version.” Yet Joseph Noilly’s original 1813 formula is different from modern-day “extra dry” vermouths. “The original is almost amber, while extra dry is clear,” notes François Monti, spirits educator and author of El Gran Libro del Vermut. “The intensity of the botanical mix is more assertive, and it’s based on oxidated wines.” Noilly’s son relocated the company to the seaside Marseillan in the 1850s, so the vermouth also exhibits intriguing briny notes.

Read Next: The Best Martini Glasses

Best for Martini: Dolin Dry

Dolin Vermouth

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: France
  • ABV: 17.5%
  • Tasting Notes: Citrus, Herbs, White Pepper

The benchmark for martinis comes from Chambéry-based Dolin. Says Josh Gagne, owner of The Haymaker and Killjoy in Raleigh, N.C., “I'm looking for something that will add a dry note to the gin. Dolin has a bit of citrus, but nothing overwhelming, and a lighter mouthfeel. It makes you think about whatever you're sipping when you roll that martini around in your mouth.” Green agrees: “Tried and true price-wise and quality-wise, it’s delicate, floral, and quite dry. It’s the bottle I reach for behind the bar, and it’s the bottle I keep at home.”

Read Next: The Best Gins for Martinis

Best for Perfect Manhattan: Carpano Dry

Carpano Dry Vermouth

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Italy
  • ABV: 18%
  • Tasting Notes: Mediterranean Herbs, Lemon, Orange, Green Apple

The first new vermouth from Carpano since it first invented the category in 1786, this dry version is a good choice for a Perfect Manhattan, especially paired with its counterpart Carpano Antica. With a formula including such esoteric botanicals as Cretan dittany—a wild mountain herb—it has savory notes mingling on the finish with fruitier green apple and citrus zest. Says Miranda Breedlove, Hyatt Lifestyle Division’s national director of bars, “It has slightly more sugar than your average dry vermouth, which helps with the whiskey base of the cocktail.”

Best for White Negroni: Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato

Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato

Image Source / ReserveBar

  • Region: Italy
  • ABV: 18%
  • Tasting Notes: Apple, Pepper, Chamomile, Vegetal

Green calls this amber vermouth “more botanical” than typical dry versions. “It’s very floral,” he says, “with subtle vegetal and pepper notes.” Though it’s intriguing on the rocks or with soda, Breedlove notes that its bittersweet balance makes it a lovely choice for a White Negroni. “It has so much orchard fruit flavor and the right amount of wormwood,” she says, “and its chamomile notes play really well with gin, so it’s a fun way to toy with the drink.”

Best to Drink Straight: Mancino Secco

Mancino Secco Vermouth

Image Source / Wine.com

  • Region: Italy
  • ABV: 18%
  • Tasting Notes: Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, Lemongrass, Citrus Finish

“You don’t find dry vermouth poured neat a whole lot,” says Gagne, “but I would just drink this alone on the rocks.” Redolent of sweet orange and lemon zest, it’s “almost like a bianco,” he says, which gives it a lushness that can be enjoyed on its own. Its 19 botanicals also include plenty of Mediterranean herbs—marjoram, sage, oregano—for an intriguing layer of savoriness that keeps you sipping.

Read Next: The Best Vermouths

Best French: Routin Dry

Vermouth Routin Dry

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: France
  • ABV: 16.9%
  • Tasting Notes: Spice, Alpine Herbs, Floral, Vegetal

A “very traditional” vermouth from Chambéry, this one is “less herbal than Dolin,” says Nelis, “but it still has a lot of distinct Alpine herb notes to it.” The rosemary and the juniper berries in its influsion beautifully amplify gin in cocktails and provide it with “vegetal notes” that balance out the “little bit of spice” in it, Nelis notes, while rose petals bring a floral touch.

Best American: Ransom Dry

Ransom Dry Vermouth

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Oregon
  • ABV: 18.4%
  • Tasting Notes: Rose Petals, Juniper, Rosemary, Wormwood, Bitter Almond

Monti calls this American vermouth “a thing of beauty,” and Leah Moss, the head bartender at Brooklyn’s Tooker Alley, agrees. “It’s so much more complex than a French dry vermouth that it’s great to use as an aperitif,” she says. “It’s more herbaceous,” with “delicious” estate-grown chamomile providing a layer of flavor, along with verbena, spearmint, fennel, burdock and a host of other herbs and roots. Add orange and lemon peel and warm spices—star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and more—and, as Moss says admiringly, “there’s a lot going on here.”

Best Italian: Cinzano Extra Dry

Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Italy
  • ABV: 18%
  • Tasting Notes: Clove, Orange, Mediterranean Herbs

Though Italy is known more for its sweet vermouths, according to Max Green, “Cinzano makes a really nice extra dry one.” This bottle provides fresh, crisp notes of citrus peel and a melange of Mediterranean herbs: mint, sage, thyme, oregano. Its luscious mouthfeel resolves to a dry, mineral finish, and it holds up well to either an olive or a twist in a martini.

Read Next: The Best Gifts for Gin Lovers

Why Trust Liquor.com?

Betsy Andrews is a freelance journalist specializing in food and drink, travel, and the environment, and has been writing about wine and spirits for two decades. Betsy has written for Liquor.com since May 2020. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Eating Well, The Wall Street Journal, SevenFifty Daily, VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, Travel & Leisure, and more.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.