Ask Adam: Is There a Substitute For Vermouth if I’m Out?


Ask Adam
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Ask Adam: Is There a Substitute For Vermouth if I’m Out?

Are there any easy substitutions for vermouth if I don’t have it at home? I wanted to make a Martini the other night and realized I was out.

Unfortunately, there are not really any “easy” substitutions for sweet or dry vermouth, as the other spirits that will work are less common in home bars. But on the off-chance you do happen to have them lying around, here’s what works:

As a general rule, like needs to be replaced with like. In the case of vermouth, whether dry or sweet, it’s a fortified wine, so you need to replace it with another fortified wine. If you’re out of dry vermouth and craving a Martini, try dry sherry, or Lillet Blanc. Cocchi Americano also works. If you don’t have any of these, but for some reason happen to have absinthe, use it instead; you’ll have a Dorflinger cocktail, which is not exactly a Martini but will work in a pinch. Finally, there are some people who simply use olive brine and call it a “dry” Martini, but what you’re drinking then is just chilled and salty vodka or gin — which absolutely works if that’s your thing. It’s just technically not a Martini.

If instead you’re craving a Manhattan and out of sweet vermouth, use Port or sweet Madeira. We’ve also used a sweet wine like Manischewitz, so if you happen to have that lying around, it can work too.

Is it O.K. to send back a beer if the glass is dirty?

One hundred percent yes, you should send it back. A dirty glass means dirty beer. Plus it’s just gross to drink out of something dirty. A restaurant would never expect you to eat off a dirty plate or dirty utensils, and a bar shouldn’t expect you to drink out of a dirty glass.

Is it wrong for me to ask a server or bartender how much my drink costs before ordering it?

It may feel awkward to you to ask, but if you’re going to be unhappy when you realize the cocktail you ordered cost $16, then absolutely ask. The same is true if you arrive at a bar after your friend and see that he or she is drinking a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine, and feel it might be easier to just order the same thing. Make sure to ask what the drink costs before saddling up to the bar and potentially spending way more than you intended.

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