Webster Cocktail

Webster Cocktail
1/8 Lime Juice. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Lime Juice)
1/8 Apricot Brandy. (1/2 oz 3/4 oz Brizard Apry)
1/4 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth)
1/2 Plymouth Gin. (3/4 oz Plymouth Gin, 3/4 oz Bols Genever)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

A favourite cocktail at the bar of the S.S. Mauretania.

Well, I kind of feel like I have been a bit hard on the Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth, so I thought, “Hey you! Blogger asshole! How about using a tart vermouth in a tart cocktail?”

With all these odd Savoy Cocktails, sours ostensibly, where you find French Vermouth in the place of what should be Lemon Juice, I have often wondered about the flavor character of historical French Vermouth. Was it tarter wine? Fresher Vermouth? Has all the industrial processing and filtering now applied to commercial vermouth changed its character?

Sutton Cellars, on the other hand, is fairly low tech. Herbs macerated in California White Wine, with a small amount of unaged Brandy and Agave Syrup.

So, is the Sutton Cellars closer to what Dry Vermouth might have tasted like in the 19th and early 20th Century?

Well, certainly, there was no Agave Syrup around 1900, and probably the spices and herbs used by Sutton Cellars are fairly distinct from European Vermouth making traditions.

My personal feeling is that much of the early French Vermouth was probably closer to what we now call Blanc or Bianco Vermouth, and that the Dry Vermouth, as featured in the modern Martini, didn’t evolve until later, in the early to mid-twentieth Century.

A puzzle for you, if Dry and Bianco/Blanc vermouth existed contemporaneously, why do no Cocktail recipes differentiate between these Vermouths? Why do most just call for “Italian” or “French”?

Anyway, I like the Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth in the Webster. Its somewhat outre spice component, especially Vanilla and Christmas-like Spices work well. These ballsy flavors lend complexity to the drink where most other dry vermouths would just be bowled over by the Gin, Apricot Brandy, and Lime.


This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.