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Atsby Vermouth – Redefining a Classic

April 23, 2013

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It’s no wonder that when I first reached out to Adam Ford of Atsby Vermouth to set up a tasting for the Noblers, he offered to try to coordinate with the folks at Tuthilltown. After getting to meet Adam in person and try his two insanely delicious vermouths on Saturday, it’s clear he shares the passion and knowledge that make Tuthilltown and the spirit resurgence so exciting. 

Now you might be wondering, “Vermouth? Who the hell drinks that stuff?”. And if so you are not alone. In fact, up until recently, I myself had no real concept or appreciation for the history of this fortified wine and how through complacency and poor utilization, vermouth as a product had lost its way. You see, most of us know the stuff as that dusty bottle in our parents liquor cabinets used inconsistently and on a seriously limited basis. In fact, most of my experience with vermouth came from the bar at the French restaurant I worked at where vermouth was used to “flavor the glass” by pouring in and pouring out before a heavy dose of vodka or gin finished the job. Pair this with the fact that most folks don’t realize that vermouth, being the wine based spirit it is, goes bad, and goes bad a lot quicker than you’d think, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid explanation for the lack of vermouth appreciation. So yes, if you or your parents have a bottle of 20-year-old open vermouth, it’s probably time to throw the crap out.

In our tasting with Adam, he mentioned noticing many of these same observations. But after experiencing the peak of vermouth in his travels overseas, he came back with a plan to change these notions. Honoring the historical production of infusing botanicals into a mix of wine, brandy, and sweetener but upping the ante by starting with high-end nuanced products instead of the traditional bland wines and neutral spirits, Adam has created two modern-day vermouths, utilizing New York based sourcing to re-invigorate and create recognition for a truly delicious product category.

Atsby now has two vermouths on the market in its Amberthorn and Armadillo Cake varietals. Vermouths often come as “dry” or “sweet” but Adam took a more middle ground approach to make two delicious and versatile offerings. By leaning closer to the middle of “dry” and “sweet” for each of his products, the real distinction comes in the use of the many botanicals like French lavender in the Amberthorn and cardamom and shitake mushrooms in the Armadillo cake. Both were delicious but my preference for the Armadillo Cake probably stems from my preference for whiskey. The Armadillo Cake and Tuthilltown’s Hudson Manhattan Rye are a match made in heaven.

I was excited to start experimenting with Atsby Vermouth in my own cocktail creation but last night, I decided to start with a classic. The Manhattan is by far one of the most famous whiskey based cocktails out there and while it might be simple in execution, the utilization of specific products is where the flavors can really take off. So being a bit inspired by Adam’s passion, I decided to use my own homemade spirits to make my version of the perfect Manhattan. Make sure you pick up a bottle of Atsby Vermouth and enjoy this delicious cocktail!

The Great Atsby

2.5 oz Bourbon or Rye (I used my own, but choose your favorite)

1.5 oz Atsby Armadillo Cake Vermouth

4 drops of Orange Bitters (I used my own here, but choose your favorite)

Lemon rind for garnish

Stir the bourbon, vermouth, and bitters in a whiskey glass. Add one large ice cube and garnish with the lemon rind. The classic recipes call for a maraschino cherry and an orange wedge but I prefer my drink a bit less fruity. Enjoy!

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