How to Make your own Vermouth
Home Distilling

How to Make Your Own Vermouth

at home in your kitchen…


The martini has to be my all-time favourite cocktail. Smooth, sophisticated and when perfectly chilled, perfect for sipping. And as any home bar enthusiast knows you cannot make a great martini without vermouth, any more than you can without gin. The two go together just like… Well, they just do.

In this article, I’m going to show you how easy it is to make your own vermouth at home in your kitchen using the simple process of infusion. You can produce vermouth in a matter of hours with no special equipment required, other than a sous-vide wand or a slow cooker/crockpot.

I recently experimented with some leftover half bottles of wine and some of the gin botanicals I have around the kitchen and the result was nothing short of delicious. I would recommend you try this recipe. You will be surprised at how easy it is.



A Bit About Vermouth

But first of all a bit about vermouth. Vermouth is aromatized wine fortified with brandy. Aromatized wines have been around for quite a while in various medicinal forms, but certainly, they became drinks in their own right in the late 19th Century.

Fortified wines such as port, Madeira, Marsala and sherry all have a higher ABV than wine due to the addition of extra yeast (and so more fermentation) or with the addition of brandy. Typically 16%, the ABV can be as high as 22%.

Aromatized just means the wine is infused with aromatics such as herbs and spices. If you want sweet vermouth then use sweet white wine for the base. If you like your vermouth somewhat dry then use dry white wine. Red vermouth is actually made from white wine with caramel colour added. If you have rosé wine then go for it. The photos in this post show a batch I made using a ‘crisp’ rosé from Spain. One thing to note is that the rosé wine darkened during the process to a beautiful ruby colour.



The Aromatics



Chamomile ~ one of the key aromatics in vermouth


The key aromatic ingredient in vermouth is bitter wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, better known as the key botanical in absinthe. It is worth searching out this aromatic online. Many herbal sites sell it. Contrary to popular myth absinthe, or wormwood does not make you go crazy. Rather it is the high ABV of absinthe at 70%+ which can cause hallucinations if taken to excess.

Other herbs, more easily acquired, such as chamomile and thyme, and spices too like cinnamon and clove, together with fruit peel, all add to the mix to make a bitter and complex aperitif.



Using a Sous-vide Wand


Sous-vide wand

Sous-vide wand


Sous-vide is the French for under vacuum which is where the technique originates from. A sous-vide is a water bath where the temperature can be very carefully controlled to allow a long slow cooking process for the foods vacuum packed in plastic watertight bags.

We have gone something like sous-vide crazy in our house. After buying a wand online for very little money, we have been sous-viding all sorts of things, even a whole leg of lamb, after which the meat just fell off the bone.

Other than a sous-vide wand, you will need a stock pot or large deep pot as the water bath and that is pretty much all the equipment you will need. The sous-vide process will gently draw out the flavours from the aromatics rather than waiting several days for the flavours to develop if you were to steep the vermouth cold. The process is essentially the same: one of infusion.

The vermouth itself can be made in a large Kilner type jar with a tight seal. You can also use the wine bottle as long as it has a screw cap.

You will need to fashion a lid of some sort or you will have a very steamy kitchen. A lid carved out of foamex is very adaptable. If you don’t happen to have foamex, or similar, lying around, (and why would you?) place the pot lid as securely on the pot as you can and cover it with a clean tea towel taking care not to let the towel dangle close to the cooker.

If you are the practical type, build yourself a sous-vide bath out of foamex glued together with pvc cement as I did.



Using a Slow Cooker/CrockPot


My Battered Old Crock Pot

My Battered Old Slow Cooker


You will more likely have a slow cooker in your kitchen than a sous-vide wand. Versatile and cheap to buy they are an essential piece of equipment in our house. I have made vermouth very successfully in a slow cooker. Although I prefer the sous-vide method as you have more control over the temperature than with a slow cooker, I must admit it is easier to just bung everything into the slow cooker. Using the slow cooker method needs no extra containers. The whole lot goes into the cooker and is poured out into a jug at the end before filtering.



A Few Points for Both Methods

Some recipes call for the wine to be brought to a boiling point in a big pot, the aromatics added, then the whole allowed to cool overnight. I think boiling the herbs and spices, let alone the wine, will somehow alter the flavour. Boiling seems like quite a harsh process for this most delicate of herbal aperitifs. Not to mention that the boiling point of alcohol is 78.37 degrees Celsius. It would have to be a very quick boil to stop all the alcohol evaporating.

Also. you don’t need to macerate the aromatics for long for them to impart their flavour to the wine. A couple of hours max should do it.

Like wine, once opened vermouth should be drunk within a few days and stored in the fridge in the meantime. For that reason, it is better to make in small quantities that will be used up quickly.

Try using a half bottle of wine to start with until you have found a recipe that works for you. That way you can experiment and if something goes wrong you haven’t wasted a whole bottle of wine trying. And you can always drink the first half while waiting for your vermouth to infuse!

After reading quite a few articles online I was raring to go at attempting my own. I have adapted and combined quite a few of the recipes I found into a couple I like. Feel free to adapt to your own taste. The ingredients are the same for both methods.



Sous-Vide Wand Instructions:-


Homemade sous-vide bath with wand

Homemade foamex sous-vide bath with wand heating up


  • Fill a large pot with water and dangle your sous-vide wand in the water.
  • Bring the sous-vide up to temperature. 72 degrees Celsius should do it. Keep in mind the boiling point of alcohol at around 78 degrees Celsius and infuse below that.
  • Add all the dry ingredients to the large jar, except for the sugar. This can be added later when the aromatics have infused.
  • Pour in the wine and seal the lid tightly.
  • When up to temperature place the sealed jar in the water.
  • After an hour try your vermouth. If it is to your satisfaction then stop the process by taking the jar out of the sous-vide and letting it cool at room temperature. Bear in mind that the aromatics will keep on infusing.
  • If you like your vermouth to be quite bitterly pungent then keep going.
  • When your vermouth has cooled enough to handle, strain it through a muslin cloth in a funnel to filter out all the bits. Do this twice.
  • The vermouth will be a little cloudy. This can’t be helped. If you want it to be clearer you will need patience and a coffee filter. Worth doing though.
  • While the vermouth is still warm add the sugar to taste.
  • Some recipes call for the sugar to be caramelised first. This can be tricky as it is so easy to burn the sugar. And it’s really not necessary.
  • Add the all-important brandy.
  • Bottle in a sterilised bottle, chill and mix a martini.



Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Instructions:-


Making vermouth in a slow cooker

Making vermouth in a slow cooker


  • Place all the dry ingredients in the slow cooker.
  • Pour in the wine.
  • Set the slow cooker dial to high.
  • Leave for up to an hour. During the end of this time test the temperature. It should be around 74 degrees Celsius.
  • I use a digital confectionery thermometer to measure the temperature.
  • Turn the dial down to the keep warm setting.
  • Leave for an hour and a half then test the vermouth. If it is to your taste then switch off the slow cooker and allow the contents to cool.
  • If you would like it a little stronger then leave it a little longer. But again bare in mind that as it cools it is still infusing.
  • Strain, add the brandy and the sugar to taste and bottle as for the sous-vide method.


Digital confectionery thermometer



Rosé Vermouth

Rose vermouth

Rosé vermouth


  • ½ bottle rosé wine
  • Fresh zest from ½ blood orange
  • Fresh zest from ¼ grapefruit
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 juniper berries
  • Pinch angelica root
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon or 1 clove
  • 1 chamomile tea bag
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried lavender
  • ¼ teaspoon wormwood (in this instance I used a South African dried root called Devil’s Claw which is also bitter to see how it would taste and it worked out very well)
  • Sugar to taste
  • ½ cup brandy


Rose vermouth bottled



Dry White Vermouth


  • ½ bottle dry white wine
  • Fresh zest from ½ orange
  • Fresh zest from ½ lemon
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 juniper berries
  • Pinch angelica root
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 chamomile teabag
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rose petals
  • ¼ teaspoon wormwood
  • Sugar to taste
  • ½ cup brandy



Martini Cocktail

For the Perfect Martini use a ratio of 50/50 homemade vermouth and London Dry Gin. Add about 45ml of each into a shaker with ice. Stir. Chill your glass. The best martinis are served cold. Some people keep their martini glasses in the freezer for that purpose. Strain into your glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon zest.


Sweet vermouth


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