For this aromatic homemade vermouth, Adam Ford, founder of Atsby vermouth, uses an array of fragrant flowers, herbs, and spices, like lavender, rosebuds, chamomile, and vanilla, plus smoky tea leaves and lemon peel. Its complex flavors are a great complement to a rye Manhattan or other vermouth-heavy cocktail, but to get a sense of its true flavor, try it on the rocks with a splash of soda water.
- 1 cup Demerara sugar
- 4 oz. grappa
- 1 vanilla bean, preferably Madagascar Bourbon, split lengthwise, seeds scraped, and bean roughly chopped
- 1 (750-ml.) bottle semidry white wine, such as riesling
- 1⁄2 cup dried lemon peel
- 1⁄4 cup dried lavender
- 1⁄4 cup dried sage
- 1⁄4 cup dried tarragon
- 3 tbsp. dried basil
- 3 tbsp. dried chamomile flowers
- 3 tbsp. dried rosebuds
- 2 tbsp. dried angelica
- 2 tbsp. Lapsang souchong tea
- 2 tsp. dried ginger
- 2 tsp. dried hyssop
Stir sugar and 1⁄3 cup water in a 4-qt. saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, 15-18 minutes. Increase heat to high; when mixture comes to a boil, swirl pan, without stirring, until caramel is dark golden, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Combine grappa and vanilla beans and seeds in a sterilized 8-oz. glass jar; place a lid on jar and let sit in a cool, dry place for 2 days; strain.
Pour 1⁄3 cup wine into a glass; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Pour remaining wine and ingredients into a 4-qt. saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to low; cook until reduced by one-third, about 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature; strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a sterilized 1-qt. glass bottle. Stir in 2 oz. of the reserved caramel, along with the vanilla-infused grappa and the reserved wine. Place a lid on bottle; chill at least 24 hours before serving.