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Don’t Forget the Vermouth

Bamboo Cocktail

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If you’re a subscriber to Fine Cooking magazine, you have certainly read Liza Weisstuch’s story on vermouth by now. You are storing opened bottles in the refrigerator and ensuring that spoiled vermouth doesn’t spoil your cocktails.

But you may still have one lingering question: How do I remember which vermouth is which?

I struggled with this question for years. Every time I’d read a recipe calling for Italian vermouth I strained to remember if that was the clear one or the red one. So I wrote it all down and came up with this handy mnemonic device.

Sweet vermouth = Italian vermouth = Red vermouth

Dry vermouth = French vermouth = White vermouth

The word “sir” is easy enough to remember, and DFW is the abbreviation code for the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

Put that information to good use in the Bamboo cocktail: The drink was created by the German bartender Louis Eppinger in Japan sometime in the late 1800s. It is a low-alcohol, extremely dry, slightly aromatic drink that can pair with food better than most cocktails.

Below is its most basic format. Some bartenders add a dash of Angostura bitters to the recipe and a lemon peel. San Francisco bartender Brooke Arthur adds a splash of pickled cherry juice and an orange peel in her delicious version made at Prospect restaurant.

Bamboo Cocktail
1.5 fl. oz. French Vermouth
1.5 fl. oz. Dry Sherry, such as a fino or manzanilla sherry.
2 dashes Orange Bitters

Sitr all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. A lemon zest garnish is optional.


Leave a Comment


  • erik_ellestad | 02/08/2011

    Yeah, I've gotten so annoyed with the French/Dry/Italian/Sweet thing, that I am just going with three terms: White, Red, and Blanc(maybe bianco) in the future.

  • Surfingcook | 02/08/2011

    I always remember it as, red is Italian, because it's passionate, warm color.

  • rosebud2 | 02/07/2011

    My bottle of White Vermouth comes out almost every time a small amount of white wine is called for in a recipe. It saves me from having to open a bottle for just a small amount( I rarely have any leftovers! LOL) and the flavour boost is wonderful
    Helen in PEI Canada

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