Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Local Vermouth Favorites: Papa Razzi Metro to Bistro du Midi

Last week, I discussed The Most Ignored Wine:Vermouth. It's a wine that many wine lovers don't seem to write about, and some might not even realize that it is a wine. Vermouth can be delicious and complex, intriguing and diverse. We 're fortunate in the Boston area that some restaurants understand the wonders of Vermouth and showcase it on their menus. Let me bring your attention to two examples, to give you a glimpse into what you can find.

I recently attended a media dinner at the new Papa Razzi Metro in Burlington, which has undergone a radical renovation, from its interior to its menus. One of their most interesting cocktails on their list is the Tempo Triplo ($11), a blend of three Vermouths with some bitters (pictured above). Unlike many other cocktails, where Vermouth is almost an afterthought, this is a cocktail where Vermouth takes place front and center. It is a love letter to Vermouth, a concoction that displays the full wonders of Vermouth. The three Vermouths are all from Contratto, an Italian producer who has been making Vermouth since the 1890s.

The cocktail is a,blend of their Bianco, Rosso, and Americano Rosso, and I also got the opportunity to taste each on their own. The Bianco was more herbal in nature with only a hint of sweet, while the Rosso was sweeter, with the herbal notes more in the background. The Americano was more savory in nature. In the Tempo Triplo, equal amounts of these three Vermouths are mixed together and then topped with some Orange Bitters. I found the cocktail to be delicious, an intriguing blend that was lightly sweet, with plenty of herbal notes and a slight bitter edge to the finish. It was refreshing and interesting, a fine drink for the summer, and one which would pair well with food too, such as a spicy sausage pizza or a cheese plate.

Vermouth can shine as the dominant ingredient in a cocktail.

I've  previously wrote about the Summer Rosé Tour at Bistro du Midi, their summer-long specials showcasing Rosé wine. Last week, I spoke with Head Sommelier Todd Lipman who told me about another Rosé special they recently added, their House-Made Rosé Vermouth. You can choose to order a glass on its own ($9) or in a Rosé Negroni ($15). I'm sure they would be willing to use in other cocktails if you asked.

The House-Made Rosé Vermouth.starts with an unaged Grappa, fresh strawberries and dried cranberries, which are macerated for about three days. The solids are then removed, and they won't be tossed away but will be used in dishes like their foie gras. A dry Rosé and a Ruby Port are then added. Herbs and botanicals are steeped, including wormwood, gentian, bitter orange peel, dried oregano, thyme, sage,fresh rosemary,juniper berries and vanilla bean, All of this is eventually warmed and then finished with a fine, dry Rosé. It is obviously a laborious process, a labor of love, which highlights the marvels of finely crafted Vermouth.

I tasted the Rosé Vermouth and was impressed. Initially, the lightly sweet vermouth presents with bright red fruit up front, tasty strawberry and raspberry flavors, and then the herbal notes come forth, complementing the fruit, adding savory elements. On the finish, there is a tinge of bitterness, a satisfying ending to the roller-coaster of flavors within the vermouth. This too would pair well with certain foods, and I'm sure Todd can steer you to some intriguing pairings.

Which other restaurants either make their own Vermouth, or makes a tasty Vermouth cocktail?

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