Serious Eats: Recipes

Bamboo

Between Noilly Prat's change in formulation and the recent appearance of Dolin on a growing national basis, this is shaping up to be a big year for vermouth.

"So what?" is the usual reaction, but hear me out: if you're accustomed to drinking a glass of wine before dinner, or a light aperitif, or even a potent martini, this change in the vermouth world could affect you in some pretty interesting ways. But while some lament the disappearance of the old-style Noilly Prat from the American market--and despite my defense of the European blend that's now coming in, I do count myself among them, preferring to have it both ways--the growing interest in the vermouth world bodes well for good drinking this year.

I love well-made vermouth, and this is a good drink to showcase its potential. The Bamboo dates to at least the early 20th century, and unlike most cocktails you come across, it has a more modest payload, being based on equal parts dry vermouth and dry sherry (I like the bone-dry crispness of manzanilla in mine, though you could explore the range of dry sherries with this drink; an oloroso or amontillado could have interesting results).

Basically a glass of wine that decided to move to the city, enroll in continuing education and leave its rustic hometown ways behind, the Bamboo combines vermouth's enchanting aromatics with sherry's distinctive dry nuttiness, with a little dash of bitters to give it both depth and brightness. The next time you're looking for an aperitif to serve before dinner, put down the chardonnay and crack open fresh bottles of vermouth and sherry--buy half-bottles if need be, so the wines won't turn before you've finished them--and see what the Bamboo can bring to the table.

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