If you think Dolin Dry Vermouth suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, its siblings, Dolin Blanc and Dolin Rouge, have been in therapy for years. Neither one is the type of Vermouth that you’d use in a Martini, so many people (and I was one of them) are unsure as to what their purpose really is. They are both produced in the Chambery region of France (as is Dolin Dry) from secret recipes that begin with a base of 75%-85% wine to which various herbs and other aromatics local to this same area are added. Once I had the opportunity to taste Dolin Blanc, I fell in love with its delicate taste that effortlessly marries herbs and flowers with just the right amount of honey-flavored sweetness. It’s very reminiscent of a dessert wine and on its own it’s actually a perfect accompaniment to a cheese plate. I’ve combined it with various ingredients in several cocktails that I’ve talked about here on the blog: The Winter Sunset with Bluecoat gin, Aperol, and Pamplemousse Rosé, The Winter Solstice with Rujero Singani and Suze, and the classic Old Pal cocktail with Redemption rye and Campari. That’s considerable versatility!
Dolin Rouge was also a taste revolution for me since I was used to heavier Vermouths like Carpano Antica and Punt è Mes (which we’ll talk about tomorrow). Its profile is much lighter in body, but yet it still has deep, rich flavors of dried fruits and honey with just a trace of bitterness, making it almost brandy-like in its taste. It can be glorious in a Negroni, but I think it gets lost in a traditional Manhatten because it doesn’t have quite the heft it needs to stand up to the rye. However, many other bartenders and bloggers believe that its lighter weight lets the brown spirits shine through and take center stage, so it’s really a matter of personal preference. There’s no right or wrong; don’t be afraid to let your taste buds be your guide. Hauz Alpenz, the importer of all the Dolin products, recommends the Rouge alongside a charcuterie board with black olives, which is definitely something that I’ll be trying very soon! Death & Co. in NYC combines the Dolin Rouge and the much heavier, almost amaro-like Punt è Mes to make their own house vermouth, in much the same way as they combine brands of bitters. This is another option I’ll certainly be investigating since not everyone that I make Manhattens for has quite the same love of the heavier Vermouths as I do.
The cocktail that I chose to make for you today is called Persephone from the PDT Cocktail Book. It was created by David Slape, the first bartender hired at PDT (Please Don’t Tell), a speakeasy in NYC owned by Jim Meehan. I was attracted to this cocktail for several reasons. First of all, I liked the fact that it has Laird’s Applejack, a brown liquor that is lighter than bourbon or rye, as its base spirit. This made sense to me in terms of weight. Secondly, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have an adult experience that involved Sloe Gin! The last time I had a cocktail (and I’m using that term very loosely here) with Sloe Gin in it was many, many moons ago. The results were memorable (sort of), but disasterous (for sure)! And finally, who could possibly pass up a drink named after the goddess of the underworld and the daugther of Zeus and Demeter. Not me! The combination of the apple from the Applejack and the bright fruit from the Plymouth Sloe Gin worked so well with the deeper, dried fruit and spice notes of the Dolin Rouge, that I think it’s the perfect cocktail to really showcase this particular Vermouth’s amazing flavor. I hope you agree!
Persephone from David Slape via the PDT Cocktail Book
1 oz Laird’s Applejack
¾ oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
½ oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup*
Lemon stip for garnishing
Combine all the ingredients except the garnish over ice and stir with a long-handled bar spoon for 30-45 seconds until very cold. Strain using a Julep strainer into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a fan of apple slices. Enjoy!
*Add 1 part sugar to 1 part boiling water. Heat gently until it looks clear. Cool before using. Simple syrup will stay in a Mason jar in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.