Why make vermouth when you can just buy it? Fair question. Making your own vermouth means you have control over what goes in. Using the precise temperature control of Anova means you can coax flavors in ways that won’t harm the alcohol or over-infuse the botanicals leaving you with flavor-packed sous vide vermouth. Infusing alcohol is very exacting in which temperatures work best. With the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker, you take all the guesswork away and assure that your alcohol will be the best representation of what it’s meant to be.
My recipe takes a little bit from every part of my life to create a vermouth that becomes a wintry sweet and bitter vermouth. First, I use good Spanish brandy and semi-sweet sherry. This gives the vermouth a nice nod to the Spanish bars where I first fell in love with dark vermouth. Next, I use a German Weisser Burgunder which is a German Pinot Blanc. It’s dry and crisp. It’s a clean wine that’ll take on the infusion without getting in the way. Next, I hit a loose leaf tea shop to collect the dried Hibiscus, Wormwood, Lavender, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Cardamom Pods, and Chamomile Buds. This shouldn’t set you back more than 20 bucks total. You don’t need more than 50 grams (2-3 oz) of each. You may need to snag the wormwood from an online dealer but it is gettable. And, no, it will not make you hallucinate. Sorry.
The last component is the sugar syrup. I like using a panela syrup in these cases because it’s dark and lush. Panela is a latin American product that’s made from boiling down sugar cane juice. It becomes a hard and dark sugar product that has a very smoky, earthy, and caramel taste to the mild sweetness. It’s the perfect balance that’ll not over sweeten your vermouth.
All of this combines gives you a warming vermouth that’s perfect for a winter Manhattan or Negroni. There’s a distinct hit of bitterness that turns to a winter spice tanginess before you get that little sweetness on the back of the taste.
Okay, let’s put this beautifully subtle and spicy vermouth together.
Sous Vide Dark and Wintry Vermouth
What you'll need:
- 22oz/.65l Dry White Wine (Pinot Blanc)
- 4oz/.12l Spanish Brandy
- 4oz/.12l Medium Sweet Sherry
- 4oz/.12l Panela Syrup
- 10 Cardamom Pods
- 1 Star Anise
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dried Lavender
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dried Wormwood
- 1 heaping teaspoon Chamomile Buds
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dried Hibiscus Flowers
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
Set Your Anova Sous Vide Precision CookerThere’s a method to the madness here. Previously, when I was making a grenadine, low heat was the play. You wanted to leach out the flavor without breaking down the berries. That’s not the case here. We’re using hard and dried barks, seeds, and plants. We’ll need a slightly higher heat to get those flavors into the alcohol. I set the Anova Precision Cooker to 155°F / 68.5°C. This is a great temp to open up the botanicals and release them into the alcohol to infuse. You really don’t want to go much higher. Alcohol boils at 173°F / 78.3°C which is a pretty long way from when water boils at 212°F / 100°C.
Prepare the Vermouth
There’s an ease to putting this together. I use a 1-liter/34 oz hinged top bottle which should accommodate everything.
First thing, make the panela syrup. Any Mexican supermarket will sell Panela cane sugar. Sometimes it’s called Piloncillo. Put 4 chunks in half a cup of water into a small pan. Bring the heat up on the stovetop to just a below a boil to dissolve the sugar into the water. You don’t want to boil the syrup because that will cause it to thicken and possibly start to caramelize. Once the panela is completely dissolved, turn off the heat and let cool. You can accelerate this by adding in some of the wine to cool it down.
I use a funnel to put the all the dry ingredients into the bottle. Use a chopstick to make sure it all gets through. Next, pour in the wet ingredients: White wine, brandy, sweet sherry, and panela syrup. It should fill up right to the top.
That’s it. Lock the hinged top down and make sure to wipe down the outside of the bottle to assure it’s clean of any debris.
Sous Vide the VermouthThis is the easiest part of the recipe. Once your Anova Precision Cooker hits 155°F / 68.5°C, lay your bottle in the water bath and set a timer for 2 hours. Any longer than that and the more bitter aspects of the botanicals will start to overwhelm the sweeter nuances.
Finishing the Vermouth
Carefully remove the bottle from the water bath -- it’ll be hot. Let it rest until it reaches room temperature. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can use an ice bath to cool it down immediately.
While the vermouth is cooling, setup a straining station with a thin cheesecloth or cloth tea strainer in a large measuring cup alongside a funnel and your receiving bottle. Of course, make sure everything is clean and ready to go.
Basically, you’ll want to strain the vermouth through the cloth to remove all the tiny bits of botanicals from the alcohol. Once that’s done, pour it into your bottle and get ready to make some great cocktails.
The cinnamon really shines through here. There’s a bit of a bitter edge that has an almost tange on the end of the palate. The botanicals all blend into an earthy, sweet, and bitter fortified wine that’s multidimensional and damn tasty. This one will really make you think.
I whipped up a Negroni right away with this wintry and warming vermouth. One part each of gin, the sous vide winter vermouth, and Campari really hit the spot!
You can store the sous vide winter vermouth in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.