We tapped into the Tales enthusiasm last Saturday with a packed two-hour Vya cocktail & El Vermut tasting room. Hundreds of eager faces poured through the doors of the Bienville room at the Hotel Monteleone—thirsty for a cold glass of El Vermut! Vya Vermouth cocktails made by a group of talented bartenders kept fans busy discovering the versatility of Vya.
Patrons sipped El Vermut (a special blend of Vya) on the rocks finished with an orange twist, while Andrew Quady worked the tap and introduced a new way of thinking about and drinking vermouth.
Jamon serrano, boquerones, Spanish olives, salami, and Spanish cheese simulated fare you might find in a Barcelonan vermuteria. Whether everyone was simply starving, or the pairing was incredible, is hard to tell, we were all pouring and talking so much, we had no time to taste ourselves!
The El Vermut keg was only the first attraction: six bartenders showcased their talents along with Vya Vermouth in original cocktails using Vya Sweet, Vya Whisper Dry, and Vya Extra Dry Vermouth.
We asked the bartenders to describe the idea and the experience of their vermouth-centric drink. This is what they said, recipes included:
Zarzuela, Kaleb Cribb, RNDC, Atlanta, Georgia
The ingredients of the Zarzuela sought to expose and brighten the flavors already present in Vya sweet vermouth. The Aperol adds a bittering and drying element to the lush vermouth, the syrup lengthens and sweetens the backbone, and the bitters add roundness to the flavors present. The garnish of rosemary tincture is purely done for the olfactory senses as an opposite smell to the flavors present on the palate. This is what I like to call a discordant cocktail. As a guest smells the rosemary, the brain instinctively tells us flavors to expect from the sip. When the sip is a stark difference from the nose, the palate expands, seeking to find a connection between smell and taste. The result of the initial taste is a deeper palate interaction with the cocktail, and as the rosemary fades and smell/ taste become more similar, the brain becomes more aware of specific flavors that were there all along. This drink plays with the psychology of the cocktail and how a guest’s brain, nose, and palate connect.
Also, Zarzuela is a Spanish genre of art incorporating song and dance. It speaks to the culture of comraderie and entertainment, much the way the convivial tasting room sought to introduce drinking vermouth by itself, or in a cocktail.
Vya Sweet Vermouth: 1.5 oz.
Aperol: .5 oz.
4 Dashes Regan’s No. 6 Orange Bitters
Lemon Juice: .25 oz.
Clove Infused Simple Syrup: .25 oz.
Combine all ingredients together with ice and stir well. Strain and serve in martini glass. Garnish with one spray of rosemary tincture.
The Giving Root, Chantal Tseng, Mockingbird Hill, Washington, D.C.
(presented at Tales by Melanie Bowdish, The Passenger Bar, Washington, D.C.)
Earthy, nutty, bitterly refreshing, layered like the many rings of old trees. The Giving Root cocktail was inspired by the overwhelming giving nature of trees, plants, roots and, of course, children’s book nostalgia. I think back to Amy Stewart’s point in “Drunken Botanist:” we rely heavily on foraging and the amazing resources of our neighboring plant life. The drink marries the classic duo Vermouth and Sherry with hints of Absinthe, Fernet, and mineral water.
The Giving Root
Vya Sweet Vermouth: 1.5 oz.
Quady Palomino Fino: 1.5 oz.
Dash of Absinthe: St. George or Vieux Pontarlier
Dash of Fernet Branca
Splash of Soda
Stir all ingredients except club soda in mixing glass with large ice. Strain over one large ice cube in rocks glass. Add splash of soda and straw. Garnish with orange peel or licorice root.
Madera County Spritz, Scott Stierwalt, Ox Lot 9, Covington, Louisiana
Just as Mr. Quady was inspired by the vermuteria culture of Barcelona, I was inspired by the aperitivo cafes of Northeast Italy. The Spritz is a style of low ABV cocktail meant to be served on a sweltering afternoon along small plates with many friends. This idea translated well to our event with Vya Vermouth at Tales of the Cocktail. I bolstered herbal vermouth from Madera County, California with an Italian bitter-sweet burnt grapefruit liquor and lightened it with a bone-dry cucumber soda from Washington state. The effervescence was then finished off with a spray of oil from the peel of a grapefruit.
Madera County Spritz
Vya Extra Dry Vermouth: 1.5 oz.
Aperol: .75 oz.
Dry Cucumber Soda: 1.5 oz.
Grapefruit Peel Garnish
To a rocks glass filled with ice add Aperol and Vya Extra Dry. Top with Dry Cucumber soda. Peel a two-inch strip from a grapefruit and bend to express oils over the top. Garnish with peel.
Loud Whisper, David Cedeno, El Big Bad, Houston Texas
A light and refreshing combination of herbaceous flavors complimented with almonds, anise, and citrus. The use in this drink of both Vya Dry and Vya Whisper gives it enough length to showcase all the other ingredients.
This is a cocktail that I intentionally created for anyone to make at home. Preferably by the pool or on the porch enjoying a warm summer day. Use plenty of ice since this cocktail improves with some dilution.
Vya Extra Dry Vermouth: 4 oz.
Vya Whisper Dry Vermouth: 1 oz.
3 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Homemade Orgeat: 1 oz.
Splash of Tonic Water
1 Lemon Peel
Fill Collins glass halfway with ice. Pour ingredients into glass and stir. Garnish
with lemon peel.
Arkansas Melon, David Burnette, South on Main, Little Rock, Arkansas
My drink tasted light and summery, with fresh Watermelon in the front, an ever-so-slight bitterness, finished up with a refreshing sparkle.
Vya Whisper Dry Vermouth: 2 oz.
Fresh Arkansas Watermelon Juice: 2 oz.
Raw Sugar Syrup: .5 oz.
Splash Mt. Valley Sparkling Water
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice: .5 oz.
Garnish of Compressed Watermelon
The Bittersweet, Robby Cook, Barringer Bar, Houston, Texas
(presented at Tales by Luis Villegas, El Big Bad, Houston, Texas)
Vya Sweet Vermouth: 1.5 oz.
Aperol: 1 oz.
2 Splashes Soda
1 Dash Rhubarb Bitters
Serve on the rocks in a Collins glass with a sugared rhubarb stalk.