Dusty Liquor Bottles Are Actually Useful

Time to raid the family liquor cabinet full of ancient bottles of weird stuff. Sweet vermouth is one of the most common underdogs lurking in the back, a crucial spirit that's almost more versatile than any other booze.

Sweet vermouth via.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that...Christmas would soon be over and we can all go back to whatever it was that we were doing before the holidays consumed our lives.

Sweet vermouth is one of the most common underdog spirits lurking in the back of the dusty liquor cabinet. It’s the type of bottle that’s probably lived there since before you were born. It's a fortified wine that’s flavored with the same stuff you’ll find in a fruitcake—cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, citrus—minus all of those disgusting candied fruits. And since this stuff is wine, it deteriorates once it's been opened, so keep that bottle chilled, unless you enjoy drinking things that taste like complete garbage.

Even an ancient bottle of vermouth can be rescued by giving it the same treatment as the ubiquitous holiday drink: mulled wine. Dump the bottle into a pot, add some spices and honey, and enjoy your liquid sleep aid. But if you need to fortify yourself for a few more hours of family time, chill the mulled wine and use it in a Manhattan. 

Manhattan cocktail via.

Mulled Vermouth

(Makes 4 to 6 drinks)

1 (750ml) bottle sweet vermouth

¼ cup honey

2 cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

2 whole star anise

Strips of zest and juice from 1 orange and 1 lemon

Bring all ingredients to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes (don’t let it boil). Pour into mugs and serve, adding some of the spices for garnish if you like.

Merry Manhattan

(Makes 1 drink)

2½ ounces bourbon or rye 

1 ounce Mulled Vermouth

Lemon twist, for garnish

In a mixing glass, stir the whiskey and vermouth over ice until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.