Vermouth was first created in England as an inexpensive liquor meant to be an after-dinner treat.
The martini would be nowhere without Italy’s Piedmont region, where vermouth was first created and commercially sold in the 1700s. Vermouth is a red or white wine that has been infused with a secret blend of more than a hundred aromatic spices, barks, bitter herbs, and flavorings, such as angelica, anise, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, quinine, rhubarb, and saffron. Before it was banned in the early 20th century, wormwood was also added (vermouth comes from the German word wermut, or “wormwood.”) After the wine is infused, it is then fortified to raise the alcohol content to 15-21 percent. While red vermouth is generally sweet, its white counterpart can be dry or semisweet.