Out of Vermouth? No Problem! Here Are Some Excellent Substitutes

Vermouth, an aromatized fortified wine, has a rich history dating back to 1250 B.C.E. in China, where people enjoyed wine infused with herbs or roots. Over time, vermouth evolved and gained popularity across the globe, from Hungary to Germany, France, and Italy. Today, it’s a common ingredient in cocktails, including the Manhattan, martini, and Negroni. Vermouth can also be enjoyed straight, as is customary in Catalonia.

However, running out of vermouth at an inconvenient time is not uncommon. But don’t panic! There are several excellent substitutes that can save your cocktail and potentially even enhance its flavor.

Understanding Vermouth Types

For this article, we’ll focus on two main types of vermouth: sweet and dry vermouth.

  • Sweet vermouth is often referred to as “rosso” (red) and has a touch of sugar, along with bitter and acidic notes. It’s commonly used in cocktails like the Manhattan and Negroni.

  • Dry vermouth is more herbaceous and has less residual sugar. It’s typically clear or pale in color and is famously used in the martini.

Substitutes for Sweet Vermouth

When you find yourself without sweet vermouth, here are some alternatives you can use:

  • Port: Different styles of Port can be used as a substitute for sweet vermouth. Tawny Port, with its aging process, adds complexity with nuttiness and dried fruit flavors.

  • Sherry: For a Manhattan, consider using Sherry, particularly Pedro Ximénez (PX) or cream Sherries, as they add bold flavors with a touch of sweetness.

  • Amaro: Amaro, a vast category of spirits, is a great option. Try using a funky lower-ABV amaro like Cynar or Averna for a unique twist.

  • Coffee liqueur: A must-have for drinks like the espresso martini and Black Russian, coffee liqueur can also act as a sweet vermouth substitute.

Substitutes for Dry Vermouth

If you’re out of dry vermouth, here are some alternatives to consider:

  • White Port: White Port is a great substitute for dry vermouth in a martini. The “old Hollywood mainstay the Hi-Ho [cocktail]” famously used white Port as its base.

  • Sherry: Fino or Manzanilla Sherry can add a layer of flavor and a touch of salinity to your cocktail.

  • Cocchi Americano: An aromatized wine infused with herbs and spices, Cocchi Americano is a go-to substitute for dry vermouth.

  • Lillet Blanc: A French aromatized aperitif wine made with a blend of Bordeaux grapes and citrus liqueurs, Lillet Blanc is another excellent option.

  • Sake: Sake can be a substitute, but finding the right one to match your drink’s flavor profile can be challenging.


Can I substitute dry vermouth for sweet vermouth?

Yes, but it will alter the flavor profile of your drink. Dry vermouth is more herbaceous and less sweet, so adding a dash of simple syrup may be necessary.

Can I substitute vermouth for white wine?

It depends on the situation. For an aperitif or seafood appetizer pairing, white wine can be a suitable substitute. However, it’s not recommended as a direct replacement for vermouth in cocktails.

Can I substitute sherry for vermouth in a recipe?

Sherry is a great substitute for vermouth, especially in cocktails like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned. PX or cream Sherries add bold flavors with a touch of sweetness.

Running out of vermouth doesn’t have to be a disaster. With these excellent substitutes, you can create delicious cocktails that may even surprise you with their unique flavors. Experiment with different options and find what works best for your taste preferences. Remember, the key is to have fun and enjoy the process of creating your own unique concoctions.

Are there any easy substitutions for vermouth if I don’t have it at home? I wanted to make a Martini the other night and realized I was out.

Sadly, there aren’t many “easy” alternatives to sweet or dry vermouth because home bars are less likely to stock the other acceptable spirits. However, in the unlikely event that you do happen to have them on hand, try this:

Generally speaking, like must be substituted with like. Vermouth is a fortified wine, so you must substitute it with another fortified wine whether it is sweet or dry. If you’re craving a Martini but out of dry vermouth, consider Lillet Blanc or dry sherry. Cocchi Americano also works. If you happen to have absinthe instead of any of these and can’t find any of these, use it to make a Dorflinger cocktail, which isn’t quite a Martini but will do in a pinch. Last but not least, some people just add olive brine and refer to it as a “dry” martini, but all you’re really drinking is chilled, salty vodka or gin, which is totally fine if that’s your thing. It’s just technically not a Martini.

Use port or sweet Madeira instead of sweet vermouth if you’re craving a Manhattan instead. We’ve also used sweet wines like Manischewitz, so that one can also work if you happen to have some on hand.

Is it O.K. to send back a beer if the glass is dirty?

One hundred percent yes, you should send it back. A dirty glass means dirty beer. Plus it’s just gross to drink out of something dirty. A bar shouldn’t expect customers to drink from a dirty glass, just as a restaurant wouldn’t expect them to use dirty dishes or cutlery.

Don’t Have Lillet? Make your own Homemade Bianco Vermouth


What can be substituted for vermouth?

Dry Sherry is about as close as you can get [to vermouth],” Bezuidenhout says. Other fortified wines like Lillet blanc, Cocchi Americano, and even a white Port work as well. “If you decide to use olorosso or amontillado,” says Bezuidenhout, “then it will make for a different drinking experience but still delicious.”

What is the same as vermouth?

Lillet, St. Raphael and Dubonnet are fortified wines similar to vermouth, but are usually considered separate products. The two predominant styles of vermouth – the red, Italian rosso and the dry, white vermouth from France – were created and commercialized more than two centuries ago.

What are the 3 main ingredients in vermouth?

According to Italian law, vermouth is a product made up of at least 75% wine, fortified and flavored with an alcoholic infusion of herbs and spices which must include artemisia (mugwort), in the Pontica and Absinthium varieties. It is this herb and its dried buds that mainly characterizes the recipe of vermouth.

What is used to flavor vermouth?

Vermouth is an aromatized, fortified wine that is flavored with botanicals such as citrus peel, star anise, basil, thyme, and wormwood.

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