Martini Bianco my way…

Martini Bianco (Photo from Martini's website)

Martini Bianco (Photo from Martini’s website)

In line with my summery post earlier this week (we popped our first rosé wine this year, see here), I figured I share another of my favorite summer drinks, a Martini Bianco. I am not referring to the mixed drink “Martini” but rather to the brand Martini, an Italian producer of Vermouth. It is short for Martini & Rossi and has an iconic label that many people recognize (featured on the bottle pictured above). I guess the posts say a lot about how glad I am that this long Midwestern winter is finally coming to a close…

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with various ingredients like roots, barks, spices and seeds. It was first commercialized in Northern Italy, Turin to be exact, in the 18th century, but its roots go way back. It was first used as a medical drink and later became a key ingredient in cocktails, hence the name of the ubiquitous martini. Apparently (I am reading this up in various sources), Vermouth is made from rather neutral tasting grapes that are fermented to wine, to which further alcohol is added along with each producer’s secret set of ingredients. It comes in usually two styles, dry or sweet. Most people know it as dry, the sweet versions have sugar added to them after they have been fortified. Vermouth has a rather bitter taste to it, which makes it a great ingredient in cocktails. France and Italy are the main producers.

Martini & Rossi, the company of which I buy my Vermouth, started its operations in the mid-19th century in Turin. Its logo was first introduced in 1929 (I really, really love the logo) and merged with the rum conglomerate Bacardi in 1993. Some of you might have noticed that Martini is offering several different bottles of its Vermouth in stores. One usually finds the Extra dry Martini in a green bottle, the Martini Rosso, a red version vermouth, a Martini Rosato, a pinkish, sweet version that tastes like Christmas and the one I am talking about right now, Martini Bianco, their sweet white vermouth.

I fell in love with this drink a long time ago. I don’t enjoy sparkling wine very much, a classic starter in Germany, so this was a really great alternative. To me, it is the perfect apéritif on a hot day because it provides freshness, some sweetness (which by now pretty much everyone knows I love) and has an appetizing bitterness to it that makes your mouth water. I started from the welcome combination of sweet and bitter but it definitely needed an acidic kick to help. So I added a slice of lemon peel and the juice of between a third and half a lemon. I am not shy with the lemon juice because I want the acidity to really kick in. I serve it on the rocks, because the melting ice nicely dilutes what would usually be too sweet a drink. Keep the bottle in the freezer to ensure it pours ice cold and you have an awesome starter for a great evening. The bottles retail for between $6 and $9, I tend to buy them when I see them on sale…Nina has fallen in love with this drink as well, and I am sometimes surprised how fast we can go through a bottle…But even if you don’t guzzle it like us, it keeps forever in the fridge, too.

Martini my way: Al limone.

Martini my way: al limone.

And here the recipe again in bullet points, it’s as easy as it gets:

1 lemon
1 strip of lemon peel
Martini Bianco
ice cubes

Fill a glass with two to three ice cubes. Squeeze a third of a lemon over the ice. Throw in lemon peel. Pour the Martini Bianco over. Let sit for 5 minutes. Enjoy.

Do you have a favorite apéritif? Care to share?

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18 thoughts on “Martini Bianco my way…

  1. Mehrdad says:

    I really enjoyed reading this.
    I bought a bottle of Bianco last week for the first time in my life and I made it as it says on the bottle.
    Unfortunately, I didn’t like it much as it tasted a bit too bitter to me.
    I’ll put the bottle in the freezer and try again.

  2. Bali Tour says:

    Great Cocktail
    want it for refreshing :D

  3. Now when it comes to the actually tweezing part,
    you want to make sure that you’re using a good pair of tweezers.
    These shampoo ingredients strip my hair of its oils, which is overkill since my hair is already dry.

    Simply put, the heat destroys the whole hair follicle permanently.

  4. We have started carrying Vermouth at the wine bar and trying to get creative with recipes. Would love some input from everyone here. Oliver, I may have to try your lemon! One recipe that we are currently using: 3oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth, 2oz club soda, shot of Grenadine – serve well chilled in a chocolate rimmed glass. (We call it the Cherry Kiss). Good to know that Vermouth is so popular!

    • Oh, that sounds lovely! I really am a bit of purist when it comes to these Vermouth-based drinks. It has to be Martini Bianco though, not the dry stuff, because the sweet Martini Bianco is greatly balanced by the lemon.

      I sometimes add some mint leaves.

  5. […] searched for “martini bianco with lemon on ice images”. If you remember, my post on Martini Bianco contained a photo of exactly that drink that I had taken…dang, and now I want one really […]

  6. […] Martini Bianco My Way (The Winegetter) – I love a perfectly mixed martini, but I’ve never had the guts to pour myself just a glass of vermouth.  If anyone knows how to make it tasty, it’s my friend, the Winegetter, and he does it with Martini Bianco. […]

  7. Ken makes a fabulous whiskey sour, a family recipe from the mid-20th century when everyone routinely drank buckets of booze — it packs a 1950’s wallop. Not for the faint-of-heart, but lovers of lemon and sweet get addicted to this stuff. First he mixes a simple syrup made with freshly-squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar, which he keeps in the fridge (makes great lemonade, too–just mix with water to taste and add ice. I’ll get the proportion of juice to sugar for you tomorrow). To make the cocktail, mix 1 part lemon syrup (1/2 jigger/ounce) with 3 parts whiskey (1-1/2 jiggers/ounces). Double for 2, etc… Sip responsibly. I’m sure all that vitamin C keeps a person healthy.

    • Tracy, thank you so much for sharing! One of my favorite drinks is Gin Sour (which I learned the other day is apparently called Tom Collins). I can see this work with Bourbon, too. :)

  8. Blogarhythms says:

    Reblogged this on Oenophilogical and commented:
    I saw this post over at Winegetter’s place, and it really caught my attention. I’m already checking my local wine retailers to see who carries this vermouth. Although I’ve never had vermouth aside from in a martini cocktail, Winegetter’s “way” sounds worth exploring!

  9. when we are talking about this kind of wines, there is something for you on my blog… just posted :)

  10. You know, I’ve never had Vermouth except as a part of a martini cocktail. I LIKE Campari – Campari and soda, in particular. But I very rarely drink aperitifs. Perhaps I should give it a try, this Martini and your recipe.

  11. Thanks for asking! The bitterness is lower than in Campari. Campari is really bitter to me, although I do like it sometimes with orange juice. This one has quite some sweetness to it which soothes the palate.

  12. Is Martini at all similar to the Italian Campari? I tried that once at my husband’s grandpa’s home in Munich . . . I wasn’t prepared for the bitterness! The Martini with lemon is so pretty! Salud!!

  13. vinoinlove says:

    Hey Oliver, I think the link to your Rose post is not working (at least I don’t see it).
    Martini might be the only Italian aperitif I don’t enjoy :P Not sure why.. I never tried it with lemon so I’ll give it a try once the weather gets better here.
    I’m happy to hear that winer has finally come to an end in Ann Arbor! Over here in Munich it’s either raining or cold.

    • Thanks for the hint, Julian! I just fixed it. I do not like the dry Martini, it is too bitter for my taste so I see why one would not like that. But this sweetened version is good…and it is pretty rainy and nasty these days here, so that brief respite ended fast…

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