Every bodega in Barcelona worth its salt has a vermouth or two, generally drunk in the afternoons and into the night. All the bars I visited have their own spin on it. Some would add their house-made bitters or soda, some would do a wedge of orange and a green olive and other would add a splash of gin or any combination of the above.
When cooking with vermouth, it doesn’t matter if it is red, white or black, sweet or dry – it has a strong flavour and a high alcohol content, so keep this in mind when replacing wine with vermouth in dishes. And because of the high alcohol content, you may need to flambé or cook the alcohol out a little longer.
I'm happy to see Australia embracing vermouth again, not only as a mix in cocktails, but as its own drink and also a fantastic ingredient to cook with. Here are two recipes using just the one bottle.
CLAMS WITH VERMOUTH AND MINT (serves 3–4)
– 1kg of clams or pippies (washed, if sandy)
– 1 small handful of mint, ripped up
– 80ml of Casa Mariol Vermut Negre (alternatively you could use a white vermouth)
– 35g of unsalted butter
– Splash of olive oil
You will need a large, heavy-based saucepan with a lid. Place pan on high heat and add olive oil and clams in quick succession, then add vermouth and cover. Shaking the pan to move the clams around, they should start to open quite quickly, in around 2 or 3 minutes. Once most are open, remove the lid and add the butter and mint to taste. The saltiness of the clams will ensure it doesn’t need much, or any seasoning. Pour into a bowl and serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.
PHIL COLLINS (serves 1)
– 60ml Casa Mariol Vermut Negre
– 30ml fresh orange juice
– 10ml orange-rind syrup *
– Dash of orange bitters
– Topped with soda water
Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with an orange wedge and a green olive (we like to use a manzanilla olive).
*To make the orange-rind syrup, bring 200ml water to a simmer, stirring in 100g sugar. Add the rind of two medium oranges and let simmer for 20 minutes, keeping the flame low.