La Quintinye Vermouth Royal made its U.S. debut with a splashy affair held at the French Consulate in New York last week. I’m not really a huge vermouth fan, but given how the category has exploded, it seemed like a good opportunity to have a proper tasting and maybe see what all the fuss was about.
For certain, “Vermouth has gone bonkers in the past two years,” noted mixologist/beverage consultant Philip Duff, who led the guided tasting, along with Audrey Fort, portfolio director and Yves Le Boulengé, global spokesperson for EuroWineGate (EWG Spirits & Wine), which makes La Quintinye Vermouth Royal. The company’s portfolio also includes Ciroc Vodka, Excelia Tequilia, G’Vine Gin Floraison and, June Vineflower liqueur.
La Quintinye Vermouth Royal vermouth is made from white wines from the southwest of France, Pineau des Charentes—a fortified wine made by mixing fresh grape juice and Cognac from a single estate and adding select botanicals. Available in three varieties—Rouge, Blanc and Extra-Dry—the brand is a tribute to Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinye, born in 1623 in the Charente region of France, who created the Kitchen Gardens and Botanist at the Palace of Versailles for Louis XIV.
After trying all three, I was surprised by how tasty the vermouth was on its own, and it was exceptional in the featured cocktails from three of New York’s finest mixologists. For instance, Meaghan Dorman, bar director at Raines Law Room and Dear Irving, created the Reverse Monarchy cocktail with La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc, G’Vine Gin Floraison and cucumber shrub. Lucinda Sterling, managing partner at Middle Branch, was pouring Le Grand Nez, with La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge, Excelia Tequilia Anejo, June Vineflower liqueur and citrus oils.
And Franky Marshall was mixing up the Jardin Royal, with La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Extra Dry, Excelia Tequilia Blanco, grapefruit cordial, lavender soda, citrus oils and fresh thyme. “I was trying to imagine walking around the gardens of Versailles, and thinking about the flowers, herbs and scents,” Marshall said about her inspiration for the drink. This one was my favorite—I love all of those ingredients and they worked so well together.
The French Consulate setting added to aristocratic vibe, plus several ladies—including the bartenders—were channeling Marie Antoinette in period costumes. There was even a footman to announce arriving guests to the room.
Best of all, the venerable Gary “gaz” Regan was signing copies of his book, The Negroni, with a ginormous pink feather pen. Yeah, I got a book—with “lotsa love” from gaz!