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Vermouth shelf life.

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So I'm about to get a bottle of Carpano antica formula. I already have a great Rye whisky to mix with it to make a Manhattan.

 

I have a couple of bottles of vermouth that I'm going to have to throw away because I've made a few martinis and manhattans with them and they've been sitting there for about a year untouched. I don't want the same thing to happen to the Carpano so I'm thinking of pre mixing some cocktails - Martini Vesper, Martini and Vodka Martinin, and the Manhattan - and bottling them. My logic is that the high alcohol content will help to preserve the vermouth for a very long time, especially if they're a high enough abv to be stored in the freezer, hopefully this way I can avoid wasting half a bottle of Carpano antica formula and Lillet Blanc.

 

Thoughts?

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I don't know about bottled cocktails, however I do know a thing or two about preserving vermouth. The first thing I do is always buy my dry vermouth in half bottles. Next, when the dry is gone or, more likely, too beat up to use any more, I save and de-label the bottle. When I get a new bottle of Antica, I decant it into half bottles after two or three uses. It usually fits in two over-filled halfs then. Especially with the one I'm not using immediately, I fill it about as full as possible, like to within a 1/4" of the very top of the neck. That bottle then goes into the basement to hang out till I need it. I do the same with Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, which has become a new favorite sweet vermouth. I suspect the same could work with the LB. I've even considered getting smaller bottles from someone like this to even further protect these type of things, since the more types that are open, the slower I would go through each type. Just be aware that the degradation has more to do with how many times the bottle has been opened to air, and how much air is in the bottle, so it accelerates as the bottle is used up. Refrigeration helps. It is no different with wine. In fact all these types of things are wines.

 

Hopefully, someone like Brian or AiO will weigh in on this. I think they know a thing or two about bottled cocktails

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Bottling the cocktail will certainly help to preserve the vermouth, but it won't make it impervious to changes in flavor. It will still oxidize, but at a slower rate. And refrigeration is imperative, whether you keep it as is, or in a cocktail.

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Thanks for the tips, guys. I've got a couple of empty 20 and 50cl bottles lying around I can use to decant the antica into. I guess that's one of the perks of buying the little flasks of Jade. :cheerz: I'll look into getting a vacuum sealer too.

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I'm betting that if you bought fresh bottles of the same brand(s) and did a side-by-side tasting, you'd detect a difference.

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Keep it cold and dark. and yes, bottling it with a higher-proof spirit for a pre-mixed cocktail is going to keep your vermouth tastier for much much longer.

 

For me, dry vermouth gets moved to the cooking wine shelf after a week. I try to use opened sweets in less than three. Something about the aromatic qualities of sweet vermouth makes me not mind a little oxygen. Following from this, I have had much better success making bottled manhattans and such than martinis and such.

 

I can't speak for giving a bottled cocktail freezer-time. Let us know how that works out!

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Keep it cold and dark. and yes, bottling it with a higher-proof spirit for a pre-mixed cocktail is going to keep your vermouth tastier for much much longer.

 

For me, dry vermouth gets moved to the cooking wine shelf after a week. I try to use opened sweets in less than three. Something about the aromatic qualities of sweet vermouth makes me not mind a little oxygen. Following from this, I have had much better success making bottled manhattans and such than martinis and such.

 

I can't speak for giving a bottled cocktail freezer-time. Let us know how that works out!

 

I could never drink or cook with vermouth that fast. I'll settle with my less than expert palette and save the cash.

 

I am a freelance writer living in an expensive city, so I don't have a lot of petty monies. In fact, I just bumped up my vermouth intake from Gallo to the more expensive brands to see if there was a difference. I am sure now I will be called a heathen. :)/>

 

But I could mix it with something...but I tend to like to drink many different cocktails...that's a good idea. Maybe some with whiskey and some with gin, to keep all my bases covered.

Edited by Harlequin

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When it comes to bottling/pre-mixing cocktails, I will differ to Brian. I don't (and won't) do it. He's our resident expert on that one.

 

Low-proof liqueurs and vermouths are really only at their peak 1-3 months after opening, with 3 being under ideal conditions (the fridge). This, I understand, blows in so many ways. Half bottles where you can, always, but for the stuff sold in 750's and 1lt bottles, yes, divide into half-bottles as soon as you open them.

 

Now, we get into a bit more unorthodox methods for extending shelf life- namely, adding Everclear or, if unavailable, high proof vodka. This is done in VERY small amounts, but does two things (1 good, one not so good).

 

The good- You can add 3/4oz of EC (or 1-1.5oz vodka) to a full-sized liqueur/vermouth, and double/triple its shelflife (and for about $0.30).

 

The bad- You just altered your vermouth/liqueur, made it several proof more potent, and changed its texture/thickness a bit.

 

You really have to decide which you can deal with better. :)

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When it comes to bottling/pre-mixing cocktails, I will differ to Brian.

I'll bet (if you really thought about it), you'd defer to Brian on that subject. :tongue:

 

I know I do.

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Just to share an idea I had: Put a spinal needle (about £15 with postage from amazon) through the cork and use a large syringe to draw up the measure. Thoughts?

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I haven't been going through much vermouth lately, so I decant into small 187mL bottles. Sure, there's a tiny bit of headspace ... but better compared to what would normally happen to a half empty 750mL bottle of vermouth that sits around for months. If you were serious, you could also purge it with argon or something to fill that headspace.

 

Also, look into half bottles of vermouth. Buy less, more often ... if you don't go through much. Even Carpano is offering half bottles these days.

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The bottom line is that you just have to go through the open vermouth in some reasonable period of time. Once opened, vermouth in any size bottle begins to oxidize. The whole point of splitting up a larger bottle between smaller bottles is to protect the unopened smaller bottles until they begin to be used rather than oxidizing the entire larger bottle. And where the open bottle is concerned, you will open and introduce fresh air less times while using it up.

 

There is a limit, however, to these things once opened. Dry vermouth is the most fragile (and, in part, its more delicate profile allows the degradation from oxidation to be more readily observed, whereas with sweet vermouths or quinquinas, the boldness of the flavors helps mask some of those effects). I always mark my back labels of dry with the date opened and make sure I nose them thoroughly beyond about 3 weeks open. I almost never get beyond about a month open without throwing out the remainder of the bottle. While this may seem severe to some, consider that even if you're using something very good like Dolin, your cost per ounce, retail, is only about $1.00. If you throw out the last third of the bottle, you have raised that cost to $1.50 for the vermouth you used (and actually, with about .75 ounces being the typical amount used in most drinks, the cost difference for the amount used per drink is even less). Do you really want to ruin the other costly ingredients in your drink by trying to salvage tired vermouth? Over 50 cents or less? I know because I, like others, have pushed it before and have ended up with an unenjoyable or less than enjoyable drink.

 

For a long time now, I have contended that the consumption of vermouth that is shot is the primary reason so many people think they don't like vermouth. We all throw out the moldy fruit or vegetable, or the shriveled lettuce. Vermouth is perishable. We need to treat it so as to reasonably extend its life (just like our produce). But when it's done, it's done. Give it a decent burial and move on.

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I'm trying to avoid decanting because it would require pouring, which means exposing the maximum possible surface area to oxygen. The good news is I've done a quick calculation and have discovered that 1 litre of Vermouth could make between 22 and 33 Manhattans. I'll probably give the Martinez a shot too. Should get through it well within two months. :cheerz:

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Personally, I'm not convinced that oxidation occurs completely that fast. I'm certain that when bottles are filled at the producer, it is not done in a vacuum. Wrap your head around the minimal O2 exposure each half bottle will get as compared to the O2 exposure the last half of a liter will have gotten from having the air replenished 11 to 16 (and maybe as many as 22, according to my ciphering) times up until you only have a half liter left... let alone what is going to happen to the second half of the bottle.

 

BTW, there are approximately 33 ounces of material in a liter. At .75 oz per drink that is 44 drinks. An interesting experiment would be to buy 2 bottles. Decant one into half-bottles and just use the other 1L bottle. When you have just 1/3 of the 1 liter bottle left, open one of the decanted half-bottles and compare. If you're something like two months into the 1L bottle, I'm betting the difference will be very noticeable.

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My Manhattans can go as high as a 1:1 ratio, depending on how Rye heavy the whisky is. At the moment I'm using Willett 5 year Rye, which is pretty robust stuff and can take some dilution, so as much as 1 1/2 - 2 oz if I feel like it. I wouldn't really go lower than 1 oz because the drink tends to taste unbalanced and I feel like I may as well just make an Old Fashioned. Things might be different with the Antica Formula though, I've never had it before so I could be in for a surprise. Hopefully a good one.

 

Good point regarding the initial filling, I guess I was being too cautious. I've got some 20cl, 10cl and 50cl bottles kicking around so I'll use them.

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Remember too that Antica formula is now available in half bottles at just a slight cost increase (per ounce) over the 1L bottle. It will be interesting to hear your impressions of the Antica. Right now, my "go to" sweet vermouth is Cocchi Vermouth di Torino.

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