I was recently reading through David Embury’s “Fine Art of Mixing Drinks“, specifically the sections on Vermouth.
One of the more amusing, and interesting, sections I ran across was in regards to his disapproval of the new popularity of clear Dry Vermouth from the Chambery region of France, especially as it compares to his favorites, Noilly Prat Orignal Dry and the mysterious Lillet Vermouth.
“I cannot leave the subject of current brands of French vermouth without comment on Boissiere (pronounced bwa -see-air), made by Ets. Chambery-Comoz of Chambery France, “Inventors of the White Vermouth.” Actually, while there are others better it is not a bad vermouth. The trouble is that, however horrified the manufacturers may be at this result, it has been a godsend to gyp bars. A 3-1 or even 2-to1 Martini made with Boissiere will be lighter in color than a 7-1 made with most other vermouths. Unfortunately all too many untrained drinkers judge the dryness of their Martinis, not by the flavor, but by color. Who, then, can blame the bar, in business primarily for profit, for copping an extra dime by taking advantage of their lack of sophistication and educated taste? Other vermouth manufacturers are now copying this trick and, to my taste, have completely ruined their products thereby.”
So, in 1948, here we have David A. Embury, King Cocktail Nerd if there ever was one, decrying the lack of color and flavor in Dry Vermouth.
Fast Forward 60 years, or so, and the supreme cocktail nerds of our time have the exact same reaction of horror when Noilly Prat decides to standardize their vermouth formula and reintroduce color and flavor into the Dry Vermouth they sell in the United States.
You really can’t ever win…