DTW Summmer Tipples

When you’ve parked the car for the day, you may consider some suggestions for summer drinking as you read DTW.

Belsazar rosé vermouth

This isn’t quite the core subject of DTW, I know. However, Simon Kearne is a well-regarded member of the imbibing community and DTW is the home of the Archie Vicar archive, a shrine to food, drink and crashing cars. Today I would like to reveal my suggestions for summer relaxation.

The title photo shows a bottle of Belsazar rosé vermouth. As you know, vermouth is mostly sold as red (sweet), dry (not sweet) and bianco (clear and sweet, heavy on vanilla). The rosé variety is rarer. Lillet rosé is not a vermouth as it contains no wormwood; Cinzano and Lustau make versions but I have not sampled them. Belsazar’s version is the one we are discussing today. What can you do with it?

The current collection

The simple mode of ingestion is to chill it and serve it neat. You can consider it a kind of hefty aperatif – it’s ABV is 18% making it close to port and weightier than most vermouth which is 15% ABV. Drunk neat you will sip it slowly and notice the citrus character and the long after-taste (the bitterness of the artemisia comes forward).

If you want a long drink you can mix it with tonic water and throw in some ice. I don’t think it needs a garnish. I found that Fever Tree’s low sugar tonic goes best with this one. A ratio of 2:1 tonic:vermouth works for me.

You can also move up the ABV gradient and mix the rosé with gin. There are two schools of thought on this. One is to use fancy gin and the other is to use the cheapest stuff you can buy. I have veered towards supermarket gin and use a no-name brand called Ginnton. I tried it with a costly boutique gin from Jutland, Fary Lochan. To be honest, the Belsazar swamped the gin and it was money down the sink.

Either way, you have a version of the martini which lands between the austerity of the dry martini (made with dry vermouth) and the sweet, brashnes of the classic martini (made with red vermouth). I find the citrus element of the rosé vermouth balances the juniper and herbs in the gin without masking it.

Having tried at least five or six different mixes of dry martini and a lot of classic martinis, I am coming to the conclusion the dry martini is not for me. The only one I really felt was worth the trouble involved super-costly Ferdinand’s Saar gin and Dolin dry vermouth, at almost bar-prices per glass. So, I think the rosé martini is a good compromise and especially well-suited to the summer months.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

18 thoughts on “DTW Summmer Tipples”

  1. Good morning Richard and thanks for your recommendation. I haven’t been a vermouth drinker, but should give it a try, especially as a long drink with tonic. Sounds perfect for a sunny, lazy afternoon in in the garden.

    1. While I am here, do give Dubonnet another look. Having discovered it for myself about two years ago, I now usually have a bottle in the house. Two days ago I had to choose between Dubonnet and slightly cheaper Punt e Mes and the Dubonnnet one. Dubonnnez vous? Drink it neat over ice or mix with tonic or mix it with blended scotch (I am going for Ballantine´s at the moment).
      I found one Spanish vermouth I didn´t hate: Guerra. It´s not costly, it´s not like French or Italian red vermouth, and it has a distinctive flavour profile (now I try it, a little like a bitter/vermouth blend.
      And on the sherry front, Aurora Manzanilla by Vuste is an outstanding fino with a deep, rich and almost-but-not-actually sweet taste. Here is a good review. It´s very, very underpriced, even better than the Bodega Tradicion fino which is among the best.
      I will be trying Mondino amaro as a Campari alternative and willl report back.

    2. A very interesting subject for me at the moment. I’ve become a huge fan of Negroni over the last years (Campari, vermouth and gin), and I’ve discovered some interesting variations of it. So if we’re talking about vermouths here, I always wonder how they would taste in this drink. I actually had a very nice Negroni some months ago in Munich (sweet times when it was still possible to travel…) that was mixed with Punt e Mes. Very tasty, dark, a little bitter, rather stronger in feel than a standard Negroni.
      The Belsazar here could also be interesting in this context, starting with a new colour note… I’ll have to ask in one of the local bars if they have this, as I don’t really want to buy a whole bottle just for trying.

    3. I´ve never seen Hartwell here either. I suppose I haven´t looked for it.
      For those looking for an alternative to Aperol, try Walcher´s (organic) Veneziano. It´s from the Sudtirol.
      About smoking, no, it´s an odd thing. Cigarettes never did it for me either, nor did pipes but I found cigars quite appealing. My Havana days are past but I still try bad Danish machine made cigars.

  2. I’m probably the only nonsmoker and nondrinker here on DTW. I’ve never been a big drinker, but before I gave up alcohol I was quite fond of the Hartwall Original Longdrink . This drink was introduced during the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. The Finnish government had a monopoly on the sale of alcohol. They still do for alcoholic drinks over 5,5% if I remember correctly. At the time they needed to accommodate the foreign visitors with alcoholic beverages so this premixed drink was introduced. There were two versions: a grapefruit gin mix and a brandy variety that you can no longer get. In Finland the drink is known as ‘Lonkero’, which means tentacle.

    It’s the most sold drink in Finland, but it’s popularity is declining there, but it was only sold in one place in the Netherlands, luckily not that far from where I live. As I stopped drinking it became available at one of the big supermarket chains here, so you can pretty much get it everywhere now.

    1. Well done on not smoking, by the way. I´ve cut down on the nicotine since my heyday. It´s got really expensive to be a serious smoker. Despite my sozzled ravings here I keep my drinking moderate as at my advanced age it´s a disaster for the waistline, among other ill-effects. That said, if I was smart I´d not drink at all as apparently there really isn´t a single good thing to be said for it other than the drinks taste nice. The current drinking pattern seems to be that I have a look at the cocktail bar at gin o´clock and then that´s it for the day. The bottles are accumulating faster than I get through them.

    2. I have been a non-smoker all my life, so you’re not the only one here, Freerk.
      I like drinking, however, but with moderation. Usually it’s Friday evening to Sunday only, and not every day either. I know quite well the phenomenon of accumulating bottles. There’s so much out there I like to taste, but usually the bottles are of a size that last me for years…

    3. I did a quick search. Turns out Royal Unibrew acquired Hartwall in 2013. I’ve been to Denmark many times, but never seen the Hartwall variety over there. There are many companies in Finland making ‘Lonkero’, Sinebrychoff and Olvi for instance, but I always preferred the Unibrew or Hartwall variety. It’s a little too sweet for my liking, but there’s a certain undertone in it that I can’t describe and that I’m fond of. Other manufacturers seem unable to replicate it.

      A couple of years ago I read a story on the internet of an American sommelier who also liked it. He travelled to Finland every now and then just to taste it. He also tried to make it at home, but was unable to replicate it. Good news for him as Unibrew has been offering it in the States since 2018.

      Smoking never really did anything for me. I tried it, but wasn’t interested. So not really sure if I deserve a well done here, but I do appreciate the kind words.

    4. Good to hear that Simon. I was referring to the combination of not drinking and not smoking. There are very few people I know who smoke, but most of them drink in moderation.

    5. I’m also a non-smoker and drink little these days, although a long G&T is a regular weekend treat in our house. I enjoy a decent wine when we’re entertaining or being entertained, and a nice Cointreau or Limoncello as a digestif. We don’t have the stamina for much alcohol these days, so it’s quality over quantity!

    6. Hello Freerk,

      I no longer smoke or drink, so you’re not alone. I gave up drinking 3 years ago, as I just got tired of it. I gave up smoking a year ago, accidentally – I was advised to stop while I had some dental treatment and couldn’t be bothered starting again. Although going cold turkey was awful for a few days, it’s otherwise been disappointingly easy to give up.

      The biggest benefit from not drinking is being able to drive whenever I want – if I want to pop out in the evening, I can. I don’t begrudge other people tobacco and booze, though – life is to be enjoyed, not tolerated.

    7. Even 20 years ago the trend for “big reds” wore me out: 150 ml of 14% red in a glass the size of a fish bowl. In terms of quality over quantity you can´t beat a small glass of sherry. At 18% you don´t drunk much of it: about half the volume of a wine glass and I´d only have one in during a meal. And also sherry can cope with a lot of strong flavours in the way wine can´t. There are a few wines that get better with food; many just become mouthwash. For those who haven´t heard the message yet, try an amontillado with stews and roasts and it will be revelation. And for a barbecue or fish dishes have a fino or manzanilla. Your vintner will help you find these.
      You do need to be armed against the ignorant and insist you *don´t want* sweet sherry (“P.X.”) but the dry stuff. Under no circumstances go near Bristol Cream which is to sherry what Black Tower is to German wine and Martini is to vermouth: a market-sector killer.

    1. Dave: I have been known to sample this on my cycle tours, usually in in the evening. I rather like this dark beer on ones similar to it. The beer supply varies tremendously in Germany. Most towns have a local brew.

  3. try this, not famous one: half a glass of vodka, half a bottle of orange Schweppes, and then adds Bitter Campari and half a slice of orange.

    1. A formative experience in the 1980s involving vodka and apple juice has led me to view vodka with extreme suspicion. That said, not everyone will have the same feeling so they will enjoy the classic matching of Campari and orange with a vodka kick to it. It´s a distant cousin of the orange juice and Campari drink (I last had that on the bank of the Oder river and I remember they really charged me for that cocktail.)

  4. Looking back on the line-up of drinks in the photo for this article I see Teacher´s blended whiskey. I´ve since discovered Loch Lomond reserve blend is rather lovely on its own and mixed with vermouth. The best blend I found was the cheapest, Back Tee.
    The company who sell it have no idea how good it is compared to much more expensive and less delicious blends from well-known brands. It´s a pity the label is so dire.
    I´ve just re-sampled Noilly Prat Original Dry and can report a) it works very well as an aperatif due to its 18% alcohol content and b) is awful mixed with whiskey. I´ve given up on dry martinis so I can´r report whether it works well with gin. It´s good enough to drink on its own, chilled: slighltly citric, not as dry as other dry vermouths such as Dolin, Belsazar or Chazelette, nice bitter finish and a pleasing herbal undercurrent. Unlike other vermouths, NP is made from two types of wine which are matured separately and the blend is also matured for 6 months. Given all that palaver, it´s very good value for money and I´d be inclined to prefer the dry NP to dry Dolin (heresy – Dolin is very good).

    As a kind of long term test, I can report that Dubonnet is so good that it´s now a permanent fixture of my cocktail selection. I do switch to other red vermouths but pine for Dubonnet. Perhaps only Lillet Red can challenge Dubonnet (which is not vermouth) on the quinine-based drinks front; for three times the price there´s Quintinye; the cost is eye-watering though. Dubonnet it has to be. And Back Tee = a Rob Roy of remarkable flavour for a modest outlay.

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