Want to drink a vermouth that was banned by the church during the Dark Ages? This month, Tempus Fugit Spirits — a company which specializes in resurrecting long lost spirits and ingredients — debuted in the US a pair of new-old vermouths based on formulas from a 16th-century book of secrets.
Back in the Dark Ages, knowledge was a luxury only the rich could afford. And since the Church was the keeper of knowledge, it cracked down on anything that made its followers self-reliant. This included banning curative recipes, herbal tonics that are actually the ancestors to vermouth. The work by cartographer-inventor-alchemist-physician and all-around Renaissance man Girolamo Ruscelli brought to light many of these forbidden recipes. And to protect himself from the wrath of the Church, he went by the pseudonym Alessio Piemontese.
Nowadays, with the growing popularity of vermouth as both a cocktail ingredient and a standalone sipper, spirits company Tempus Fugit wanted to pay homage to Ruscelli by creating the Alessio vermouths.
The two aromatized wines, based on classic vermouth styles from di Torino in the 19th century, are crafted by a master Vermuttista of Asti in the birthplace of sweet vermouth, Piedmont. The Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso ($22) is ideal mixed with cocktails, and the Alessio Vermouth Chinato ($25), a rare bitter vermouth variation, can be enjoyed on its own.
John Troia, co-founder of Tempus Fugit, feels either vermouth would improve any Boulevardier, Negroni, Manhattan. Basically anything that requires sweet vermouth.