In Berlin, rosé vermouth has earned itself the nickname ‘the Aperol killer’, because it’s decimated its competitors and taken over cocktail menus. Here in Australia, top bartenders like Tim Philips – who co-owns Sydney’s Bulletin Place – have been paying close attention.
“Australia’s history with vermouth is pretty incredible,” says Philips. “A lot of the big Italian brands were producing them here, and up until the 1970s there was probably a bottle in every household. Now we’re seeing a second wave, and the smaller brands that are reaching our shores from abroad are the crème de la crème.”
Bulletin Place changes its cocktail list daily based on the weather and what’s in season, but they’ll often find themselves using Belsazar vermouth; perhaps, say, combining it with some local honey straight from a beekeeper-producer.
“Belsazar was created by two young guys who have a passion for fine artisanal German wines matched with really well-made fruit spirits from great producers in the Black Forest,” says Philips, explaining why his bar is so in sync with the brand. “Once they added their secret herbs and spices, they changed the game for vermouth flavour profiles.”
That second wave of vermouth has been going strong for a good decade now, but it’s been particularly focused around sweet vermouth, which is used in the enduring Negroni and Americano. But Philips thinks it’s now time for rosé vermouth to take its turn in the spotlight.
“Rosé vermouths in general have more sugar than dry vermouths, and less [sugar] than sweet vermouths,” he says. And having that not-too-bitter profile means it mixes well with tonic water and a wedge of grapefruit. “The grapefruit obviously looks super-pretty with pink vermouth, but adding that fresh, zesty citrus also tastes cleansing. It’s super easy to construct – all you need is two ingredients and a garnish, cold glassware and good quality ice, and you’ve got a drink that’s both complex and fun.”
Since the turn of the century, studies have shown that people in Western drinking cultures are drinking less than the previous generation. “One in five call themselves a non-drinker, which certainly wasn't the case when I was growing up,” says Philips. “People are drinking less but spending more on good quality alcohol. This drink fits well into that lower ABV [alcohol by volume], lower tempo movement. It might be an occasion where you’d typically buy a bottle of wine in a restaurant at lunch time, but instead you now have a few Belsazar Rosé and tonics.”
Recipe: Belsazar Rosé & Tonic
0.4 standard drinks.
30ml Belsazar Rosé
90ml tonic water
Wedge of grapefruit to garnish
Assemble all ingredients with plenty of ice in a rocks glass (like those typically used for whiskey, similar to a low-ball).
This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Belsazar. Drink responsibly.