If you thought vermouth was merely a bit player in a martini or that sherry is strictly the domain of genteel grandmother types, think again. These fortified wines are seeing a revival of sorts in the bartending world, thanks to their versatility and retro cachet.
“We see a lot of people fall in love with these drinks, especially if they’ve never had them before,” says Kaela Hayes, a manager at midtown’s Good News Wine, which offers three styles of vermouth and sherry—a dry, a medium-dry and “a sweeter, richer option”—from labels like Bodega Hidalgo, Mommenpop, Buona Notte and Artemis Botanical.
The beverages do raise a few eyebrows among the uninitiated, according to Hayes. “The sherry and vermouth part of our menu definitely brings up more questions than the other areas of our menu. A lot of people sit down and say, ‘I thought sherry was just for cooking,’ and that gets the conversation going. Of course, we’re always happy to give tastes for educational purposes.”
Hayes says customers especially like the flexibility of vermouth. “It can be served neat, on ice or as a spritzer with sparkling water or wine,” says Hayes. Good News also offers a rotating Sunday spritzer as well as a flight of three vermouths—a steal at $13—so that customers can get a sense of its breadth. “Once they experience the variety, people are sold on vermouths and will often leave with a bottle.”
As for sherry, it’s all about slowing down. “Because of the intensity of the flavor of sherry, you tend to take slower, smaller sips of it. It’s a beverage for relaxing and definitely more of an acquired taste than vermouth.”
Hayes says sherry and vermouth are a natural fit for the low-key wine bar, which takes its inspiration from Euro cafes and bottle shops. “You see them served frequently in places like Italy or Spain, so they go perfectly with the vibe we’re trying to create here.”
Good News Wine
1050 20th St.;