I walked away from writing about Print in our latest issue of Edible Manhattan with a bumper-crop of admiration for owner Adam Block, a man who knows how to do the impossible: combine earnest ethos with smart business sense. While touring around behind the scenes with staff forager, Meghan Boledovich, I learned of her love and super enthusiasm not just for what goes on the table, but what’s in the glass, too — a topic dear to my own whiskey-loving heart. After moderating a panel on American vermouth at the recent Manhattan Cocktail Classic, though, vermouth has been on my mind. As it turns out, it’s been on Boledovich’s, too:
Edible Manhattan: How’d you get into making your own vermouth?
Meghan Boledovich: My first gateway or inspiration was making an aromatized wine with Seville oranges we had this winter from a family farm in California. It is called Vin D’Orange and is a mix of the quartered seville oranges whose flavor is bitter yet aromatic, sugar, vodka, vanilla beans and rosé wine. The jars sat macerating under my desk for several months and were ready in early spring for an apéritif we called La Parisienne (topped with rose champagne and an edible flower) . Then I got on a bitters-making kick, also inspired by citrus. I made a bergamot bitters. I realized I had the gentian root to make vermouth and could procure many of the herbs from the garden, so it seemed like the next logical thing to make.
EM: What do you think you want to make next?
MB: We are growing wormwood in our garden this year and hope to use the root in our next batch of late summer vermouth. Also with fresh elderflowers in season, we made a cordial with cardamon, lemon and vanilla and we are putting it in a new sparkling cocktail with bergamot bitters, Barr Hill Gin and Prosecco, calling it an Elderflower Spritz. Once we get black currants, I am eager to try out making our own cassis. I am sure other summer fruits and berries will inspire other experiments.
EM: I’d love to try my hand at making a vermouth, and I bet a lot of our readers would, too. How’d you do it?
MB: Here is the recipe that I used as a guideline. However, I used fresh chamomile flowers from our garden and wild juniper berries foraged by Tama Matsuoka Wong, in New Jersey, and instead of sage I used fresh tarragon (since it was spring at this was growing well in the garden). This recipe was from Sebastian Zutant of Proof restaurant in Washington, D.C.:
2 heaping tsp dried wormwood (may omit or substitute another herb)
1 heaping tsp dried gentian root
1/3 tsp dried chamomile leaves
1/3 tsp juniper berries
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp dried sage
1 orange rind
1 lemon rind
1/3 tsp cardamom pods
1/3 tsp coriander seeds
2 750 ml bottles light white wine (Pinot Grigio, Grüner Veltliner, or similar — try Long Island’s Duck Walk, One Woman or Lieb‘s new Bridge Lane boxed wine)
2 cups dry or sweet sherry (try a Pedro Ximenez, cream sherry or sweet Oloroso-style for sweet vermouth; or fino for a dry-style vermouth)
Place all herbs and spices into a stockpot. Cover with both bottles of white wine. Bring ingredients to a boil, and then remove from the heat. After it has cooled, set the pot in a cool, dark place overnight. The next day, fortify the wine by adding 2 cups of sherry. Strain mixture before serving. Yields about 2 liters.
EM: Great! Any other tips?
MB: I would say for the home cook/bartender, the only difficult ingredients to procure are the gentian root and the wormwood (can be purchased online or at spice shops like Sahadi’s or health food and herbalist shops). The gentian is especially necessary to give the vermouth a certain level of bitterness but the wormwood is optional. It is a great way to use up leftover wine or wine in bulk (boxed or liter bottles) and the final product can be sipped on the rocks as an apéritif with some citrus or added to an assortment of cocktails.
Print restaurant and the rooftop The Press Lounge cocktail bar are located at 653 11th Avenue at 48th Street. If making vermouth sounds like something you’d rather leave to the pros, stop on in any time, or better yet, sign up for their summer CSA Happy Hour, where Print and online farmers’ market Farmigo have teamed up to offer a weekly CSA happy hour programs. Farmigo will allow their CSA members to log-in and custom order what they want for the week and then deliveries will be made on Wednesdays. But the kicker with a kick: members can pick-up their weekly produce stash and enjoy a market-minded cocktail and a seasonal snack from 5-7 p.m. Welcome to the new CSAC — Community Supported Agriculture and Cocktails!