Vermouth is a cocktail workhorse that is used in everything from the Negroni to the Martini. It can be paired with spirits, combined with other low-ABV aperitifs or sipped straight. The fortified wine is incredibly versatile, but sometimes what one vermouth can’t do, two or more vermouths can.
Mixing vermouth is nothing new, and it’s the premise for “perfect” cocktails, in which a drink’s vermouth component is split between sweet and dry, usually in equal parts. But there’s always room for experimentation, and that’s what we see with the High Seas, an original drink from Death & Co Denver head bartender Alex Jump.
Her drink, which is a riff on the classic Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth), calls for aonori-infused High West Silver Oat whiskey, Cappelletti, blanc vermouth, dry vermouth and Clear Creek pear eau-de-vie.
Aonori is a green seaweed that has been dried and crushed into a powder. This adds a unique and savory quality to the unaged whiskey, and the infusion is easy to accomplish at home by simply adding 10 grams of the seaweed to a full bottle of whiskey and letting it sit for 15 minutes.
Cappelletti is a wine-based Italian red bitter aperitif that plays the role of Campari in this cocktail, and the pear eau-de-vie lends a hint of fruit. But unlike the Boulevardier which uses sweet vermouth, Jump enlists blanc and dry.
“The split between [these] vermouths keeps the cocktail perfectly balanced—not too sweet and not too dry,” she says, noting that using varying levels of sweetness in vermouth is a great way to control balance without introducing a different sugar source. “I apply [this] same logic when mixing Bamboos for myself at home, as I like a slightly drier cocktail generally, so I like to make them with a bit of both blanc and dry vermouth.”
The result is a well-balanced cocktail that is reminiscent of the Boulevardier but with a lighter and more floral flavor profile that’s all its own.
3/4 ounce aonori-infused High West Silver oat whiskey*
1 ounce Cappelletti aperitif
1/2 ounce Dolin blanc vermouth
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1/4 ounce Clear Creek pear eau-de-vie
Add the infused whiskey, Cappelletti aperitif, blanc vermouth, dry vermouth and pear eau-de-vie into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
*Nori-infused High West Silver oat whiskey: Combine 750 milliliters of High West Silver oat whiskey and 10 grams aonori, let sit for 15 minutes, then strain back into the bottle. Can keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.