A well-made martini is, to me, one of the most magical of cocktails. Bracing yet smooth, boozy yet gentle, the classic drink screams elegance and sophistication yet knows how party with the best of them. Of course there are as many variations of the martini as there are drinkers, but my go-to is the classic combination of gin and dry vermouth, stirred with plenty of ice, and finished with a lemon twist. Rather than delving into the abyss of faux-tini recipes, I get all the variation I need by playing with those two ingredients. Do I want a bracing London Dry gin, say, Beefeater or Tanqueray? Or am I in the mood for a more subtle New American style like Bluecoat or Dry Fly? How about the proportions? Heavy on the vermouth for a richer tipple, or just a hint of barely-there sweetness to round out the edges? But the vermouth itself has never been a question, as I tend to reach for the excellent Dolin Dry Vermouth time and again. That is, until recently.
Foro Extra Dry Vermouth is a relative newcomer to the venerable old world of vermouth. Distributed by Chatham Imports, it is, to my knowledge, the first Italian vermouth produced from organic grapes, specifically the Trebbiano variety. The flavoring botanicals feature many of the usual suspects—juniper, marjoram, coriander, ginger, cloves, chamomile, china bark, cardamom, angelica, vanilla—but there are also a few interesting additions of wild rose, angostura, gentian, and elderberry.
The result is a spicy scent that transforms into an off-dry honeysuckle-botanical flavor. The finish leaves a hint of citrus bitterness. Aggressive is the the wrong word to describe this vermouth, since it is admirably balanced and quenching, but I've been loving the bite that it adds to my martini. And the best part is it's priced at around $15 a liter, which hits the sweet spot between value and top shelf pricing. Don't forget to store it in your fridge after opening, and enjoy a summer full of top shelf tippling!
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.
Sample provided for review consideration.