Aromatized wines - including vermouths, quinquinas and non-existent-in-Ontario americanos - are essential to a well-rounded home bar. Red vermouth, traditionally known as Italian, is a fortified white-wine base flavoured with botanicals and coloured with caramel. Sip it as an aperitif or use it to add depth and nuance to classic cocktails. Like all wine, oxidation will kill an open bottle; store in the fridge to keep for months.
Why Vermouth - the name derives from the German word for "wormwood," once a prevalent ingredient - was originally consumed medicinally. Full and rich, like a Tootsie roll scored from a spice market, Carpano's pronounced bitter finish makes it a solid cocktail vermouth.
Price 1000 ml/$19.95
Availability Vintages 360230
Dolin Vermouth Rouge
Why A lighter, more floral style is characteristic of vermouth de Chambéry (which, you may have guessed correctly, is from France). Lacking the richness and snappy bitterness typical of Italian vermouths, elegant Dolin bridges sweet and savoury. Mix with crisp gins and light whiskies.
Price 750 ml/$12.95, on sale until March 30
Availability Vintages 370841
Why Call me an old lady, but I love me some Dubonnet. (For the record, so did the Queen Mother). Enjoy this quinquina (which contains anti-malarial quinine) on the rocks with lemon, dahling, or cut with a slug of gin for a Queen Mother cocktail.
Price 750 ml/$10.25
Availability LCBO 386334