SHARP & MARTINI
Aperitivos are back on the menu as the season of festive feasting is in full swing. Thankfully this year we can fill our rooms as well as our bellies with Christmas cheer, and there is no better way to get a party started than with a welcome cocktail. Vermouth makes for the perfect pre-dinner sip, so sit back, relax and let us tell you why you need to stock up on your MARTINI collection.
Vermouth has an incredible way of imparting rich and complex flavours in drinks without the need for a long ingredient list. As a fortified and aromatized wine, vermouth is lower in ABV than liquor, making it a great mixing ingredient. There is a good reason it is included in so many time-honoured classic cocktail recipes such as a Negroni, Old Fashioned, Manhattan and, of course, the not-so-humble Martini cocktail itself as the botanical notes of vermouth work to lift the notes of the base spirit. The herbaceous bittersweetness of the liquid is a known appetite stimulator, which is why it so often used for aperitivo occasions. Vermouth also pairs rather incredibly with rich salty snacks such as chefs Conor Joerin (Sugo Toronto) and Leo Baldassarre’s (Familglia Baldassarre) saffron arancini. Created in partnership with MARTINI as the perfect Italian combination offering, the bitterness of a vermouth cocktail prepares the mouth expertly for a rich and creamy bite. Okay… now our mouths are watering!
Vermouth is a versatile category and comes in several expressions. The quintessentially European spirit varies from dry to sweet offerings and MARTINI has a number of different expressions such as Extra Dry, Rosso, and Bianco vermouth, all imparting something different to the palate. MARTINI Rosso, for example, was developed from a recipe passed down from the 1860s by generations of master herbalists and delivers flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon, tobacco leaf and anise. If you’re looking for a cocktail suggestion to go alongside those delightfully cheesy arancini, then look no further than the Americano, blended to perfection with MARTINI Rosso and serving as a low alcohol treat. Or, if you’re looking to make bolder strides into an evening of fabulous schmoozing, a 50/50 martini cocktail with MARTINI Extra Dry is a classic way to whet the appetite. Do we dare mention the now infamous Negroni Sbagliato at this point? Yes, we do. If you’re looking to hop on the trend, that bottle of Rosso will come in handy once more. Or, if you really want to sbag things up, MARTINI Fiero adds a delicious twist to the viral cocktail.
Suffice to say, if you’re throwing a holiday party this year, vermouth cocktails should be firmly on the menu. Your guests will thank you for your stylish forward planning later. Or, if you’re feeling like you’d like to let someone else serve you up something cold, fortified and delicious, why not hop on down to Sugo Toronto or Famiglia Baldassarre. Great food, great drinks. That’s what Christmas is all about.
A light sipper with MARTINI Rosso Vermouth and the perfect low-abv alternative to a Negroni
- 1 oz MARTINI Rosso Vermouth
- 1 oz Amaro
- 3 oz (half a can) of Grapefruit Perrier
- Half a round of fresh grapefruit
- Sprig of fresh rosemary
- Add ingredients to Collins glass with cubed ice and stir lightly to incorporate.
- Garnish with grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary for the perfect low-alcohol cocktail.
Serves four (12-14 Arancini)
*Recipe provided by Sugo Toronto and Famiglia Baldassarre
- Wooden spoon
- Two sauce pots (three litre capacity)
- Baking sheet
- Cutting board
- Steel slotted spoon
- Oil thermometer
- Parchment paper
- Paper towel
- Three containers for breading
- 500 g rice (Arborio or Vialone Nano recommended)
- 1.5 L broth of choice or water
- Four tbsp Minced white onion
- 30 g butter
- Four tbsp MARTINI Bianco Vermouth
- Two bay leaves
- One tsp saffron
- 100 g Grana Padano cheese (grated)
- Two beaten eggs
- Salt (to taste)
- 200 g Caciocavallo cheese (or mozzarella) diced into three cubes for breading and frying
- 250 g breadcrumbs (Panko, Italian style, or homemade)
- 250 g flour
- Four beaten eggs
- 1.5 L canola or vegetable oil
- Add broth or water and bay leaves to sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Season to taste.
- In a separate pot, add butter and minced onion. Start to slowly sweat on a medium heat for one minute.
- Add rice, turn the heat to high and stir vigorously for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add the MARTINI Bianco Vermouth. As it steams, begin to add two to three ladles of simmering broth or water to just cover the rice.
- Add the saffron, turn the heat down to medium-high and continue to stir consistently. As the rice thickens, add your broth one ladle at a time (wait for it to thicken before adding the next ladle).
- Continue until you are out of broth, or the rice is al dente (this should be at around 12 to 15 minutes). If there is not enough broth, add room temperature water until you’ve reached the desired texture. Remove from the heat and stir intermittently for 10 minutes to cool the rice.
- Mix in two eggs and Grana Padano cheese. Add salt and cheese to taste.
- Spread the rice three quarters of an inch thick onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cool in the fridge for a minimum of an hour and a half.
- Place a beaten egg, flour and breadcrumbs into three separate containers.
- With a spoon, remove a palm sized section of the rice, place a cube of Caciocavallo cheese into the centre and shape the rice around it by gently rolling it in your hand like a miniature snowball.
- Coat the ball in the flour, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Once they are all shaped, place them onto a baking tray.
- Add oil to your sauce pot making sure to leave three quarters of an inch of space at the lip of the pot.
- Begin to preheat your oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once hot, gently lower your arancini three at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown (this should take approximately three minutes).
- Remove and place onto a tray with a paper towel and salt them lightly.
- Allow to cool before serving.