This is one of those projects.
Since I'm allergic to grapes, we simply omit vermouth from any cocktails that call for them. Of course, it means the cocktails are not quite right. I got a wild idea one day to figure out what it would take to make our own, and discovered... it's actually really easy. It just required a lot of small jars. Which I happened to have on hand.
- Steep some flavorful things in a spirit.
- Carefully add the flavored spirits into some sort of dry wine, tasting as you go, until you get a flavor you like; the final result seems to be a goal of about 50/50 wine and vodka.
Of course, it's more complicated. For dark drinks, like Manhattans, apparently you're supposed to use a dark vermouth, something I didn't even know existed. This involves steeping your flavorings in a dark spirit, such as a rum or a brandy, adding it to the wine, and adding a caramel syrup--ending up, one presumes, with a rather sweet vermouth. But something like a Martini calls for a light, comparatively-dry vermouth even if it's a sweet-light, which would be steeping the flavorings in vodka, adding to the dry white wine, and omitting the caramel syrup. Again, this is a layperson's understanding from the moderate amount of research, please do feel free to correct me.
We're going to do a light dry and a dark sweet vermouth, but still using vodka for both. The wine, due to my grape allergy, is mead. Most fruit wines would be still too sweet for the dry vermouth, but mead is available in quite dry varieties. Sake would work too, but Mr. Moon isn't terribly fond of sake, and I didn't think it would be polite to start with that right away. Though I might make a small batch with it just to experience the difference. As for dark & sweet vs. light & dry, I have a mead that's quite a bit dryer than I usually drink it for the light vermouth, and a nice rich, syrupy, deep, dark mead for the dark vermouth.
As you can see, some jars are bigger than others. Pepper vodka is amazing for screwdrivers, and bloody marys of course. Lavender makes a fantastic lemonade, and I imagine the ginger will go far in all sorts of mixers. The turmeric I don't expect to have much use for beyond this project, and it's such a strong flavor I only made a little bit.
And I want to note: this stuff doesn't have to be Pinterest Pretty. I have mismatched jars with reused lids, and I'm not ashamed that my pictures won't win any awards or end up in a magazine. This stuff is fun, and I'm going to share it regardless.
I am thinking the dry light vermouth is going to be more floral and herbal, where the sweet dark vermouth will be more spicy and rich but with a lot of herbal tones as well. Here's wishing us luck!