On day four (or was it five?) of Portland Cocktail Week I was invited by Bacardi's Jacob Briars to sit in on a pretty heavy duty master class on vermouth at The Meadow, your one-stop shopping spot for all your salt, chocolate, bitters and vermouth needs--a recent addition to their offerings. Giuseppe Gallo, Global Martini Ambassador, led the rapt students down the rabbit hole of the aromotized fortified wine's history and the many branches of this Italian family tree. All a bit heady for me on day four (or was it five?) of the marathon educational and recreational drinks blitzkreig that descends on Portland each October. A miraculous reviving force appeared in the midst of the lesson, however, in the form of a round of Sbagliatos, the refreshing accidental cousin to the Negroni that was born when a barman grabbed a bottle of bubbles instead of gin and this lower-proof, effervescent junior version was born. The use of the new Gran Lusso Martini brought its robust--even lusty--herbal complexity and pronounced honey sweetness to the new classic. The Sbagliato is quite perfect for serving at a large gathering: I think this one will be on offer in the toolshed at my family's house for Thanksgiving this year.
Giuseppe illustrating the broad range of hues in Italian vermouths.
During a blind tasting Giusseppe asked students to locate each vermouth on the flavor matrix on a dry erase board.
Said results were then recorded with several smartphones to be reviewed later, an amusing melding of new and new-ish technology.
The mystery vermouths backstage.
An assortment of botanicals used in vermouths were on hand to sample
The Meadow's impressive vermouth offerings.