Vermouth may just be one of the most underrated spirits. Although a key component in many classic cocktails, this savory sipper (which is technically a fortified wine aromatized with botanicals) can equally go the limits on its own. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got a few suggestions. From big brands to small-batch producers and everything in between, here are the best vermouths for every sipping circumstance.
Best Overall: Dolin Dry
You can’t go wrong with Dolin. This French vermouth was first produced during the 1820s with a minimum of 30 macerated botanicals. Its popularity skyrocketed during the heyday of Parisian café culture in the late 19th and early 20th century, and today, the brand holds a strong presence across bars worldwide. The recipe has long been kept a secret, though rest assured, this stuff is great (and for the price, the vermouth seriously overdelivers).
Best Sweet: Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif
This famed French sipper was created by Joseph Dubonnet, who used a four-part recipe to aromatize his base wine. Although production in France still exists today, the vermouth is now also made at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Ky. The red wine base is macerated with a proprietary blend of herbs and spices (which include but are not limited to black currants, tea and more), as well as cinchona tree bark and 100% cane sugar. Serve over ice after dinner for a delicious dessert replacement.
Read Next: The Best Sweet Wines
Best Dry: Noilly Prat Extra Dry
From France, the Extra Dry version of Noilly Prat’s original vermouth is produced from 14 different herbs and spices, including chamomile, Moroccan coriander, Tunisian oranges and Italian orris root. We love the cultural blend of ingredients in this delicious, handcrafted vermouth. Use it in cocktail creations or sip over ice.
Best for Manhattan: Carpano Antica Formula
This eponymous vermouth was created in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano and has since become a standard-bearer for sweet vermouths worldwide. Flavors of baking spices, vanilla, and wild herbs dominate its textured and layered palate. Rich yet balanced, this vermouth perfectly complements the savory flavors of whiskey and bitters. Simply stir over ice, strain into a chilled glass, garnish with a cherry and serve straight up.
"For a Manhattan, I always go with Antica Formula,” says Aleks Jaworska of The Table in Edinburgh. "I think it has [great] character, and it’s a beautiful vermouth with a lot of body, spice and vanilla to go along with aged spirits (bourbon or rye for a Manhattan)."
Read Next: The Best Bourbons
Best for Martini: Lo-Fi Aperitifs Dry
Made in California’s Napa Valley, Lo-Fi Aperitifs Dry Vermouth is produced from locally-grown grapes and is loaded with flavors of citrus rind, elderflower, coriander and more. The vermouth’s brisk acidity and juicy palate come alive when mixed with your favorite vodka or gin (perfect for a Martini)—dealer’s choice here.
Read Next: The Best Gins
Best for Negroni: Cinzano Rosso
This affordable vermouth is perfect for adding a touch of sweetness to Negronis. The red wine base is loaded with herbs and spices, which, although sweet on the mid-palate, lead to a slightly bitter and herbal-driven finish.
"A 'rosso/red/sweet' vermouth is the best to use when making a Negroni, as the sweetness complements the botanicals of the gin, balances the bitterness of the Campari, and pairs well with the orange wedge garnish," says Suyash Pande, head bartender at New York’s Baar Baar. "I recommend the Cinzano Rosso. At Baar Baar, we make an incredible Chai Negroni where we infuse Earl Grey tea (0.4 ounces) and whole spices for an hour and a half to the vermouth for a tannic, masala chai finish as a variation."
Best Italian: Cocchi Americano
Produced in the heart of Asti, Italy, Cocchi Americano has been made since 1891 and is still a popular bottle of choice today. Although the exact recipe remains a secret, this white wine base is aromatized with gentian, bitter orange peels and cinchona. Sip chilled or mix into cocktail creations at home.
Best Spanish: Lustau Vermut Rojo
From Spain, Lustau Vermut Rojo is a must for lovers of Spanish wines and aromatized beverages. Unlike the still and dry base wines of most vermouths, this sipper uses rich and nutty sherry (an 80% Amontillado and 20% Pedro Ximénez blend) as its base. Notes of toffee, raisins, dried apricots, anise, and citrus rind dominate the vermouth's complex and silky palate. Enjoy over ice with an orange peel or mix together with brown spirit-based cocktails.
Best to Drink Neat: Contratto Bianco
Whether you prefer dry or sweet, Contratto has great options for delicious vermouths to sip neat. This Bianco version is bone dry and loaded with citrus-driven flavors that pair well with a lemon twist. The Rosso, on the other hand, is strong, sweet, and loaded with woodsy flavors of cinnamon, cloves and bitter dark chocolate.
Victoria James, beverage director of Cote in New York, feels a deep-rooted connection to Contratto because of her family’s history. “The Contratto Bianco brings me back to walking through fields of wildflowers and the local wild scrubland of asters and alpine herbs in my family's homeland of Piemonte,” she says. “I like to pull the vermouth straight from the fridge and serve it neat so that it isn't watered down and the full aromatics are preserved.”
Best for Gifting: Del Professore Rosso
This unique Italian vermouth makes a great gift for the booze connoisseur in your life. Del Professore is produced from 100% Italian wines (white and red) and is aged for six months in small oak barrels. Herbal-driven notes of tree bark, rhubarb, menthol, and citrus mesh with oak-influenced flavors of baking spice, vanilla and cinnamon. Although this vermouth is fine to use in cocktails, we recommend sipping over ice first to truly appreciate the beverage.