At the American Southwest-inspired Bar Calico in New York City, head bartender Trevor Easton Langer mixes up playful cocktails that pay homage to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, whose painting—Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses—lends the bar its name.
One of Langer’s personal favorites from the menu, the Caprese Martini, highlights the complexity and versatility of his current go-to ingredient: Lustau Vermut Blanco. “The addition of the vermouth adds a sweetness that brings out the subtle flavors of tomato and olive oil whilst also providing depth to the more apparent flavors of balsamic vinegar and basil,” explains Langer.
The Lustau Blanco, which Langer calls “a very underutilized expression in the vermouth family,” is made from fino and moscatel sherries and nine different botanicals, such as chamomile, gentian, marjoram, orange peel, and rosemary. “Lustau Blanco is a beautiful and layered vermouth that has an enormous amount of applications,” says Langer. “Nuts and berries throughout give it a delicious taste, but the most distinct quality is the note of oregano. This gives the vermouth a specific quality that makes it a great addition to a cocktail or fantastic to sip [before] or during a meal.”
Lustau Blanco Selling Points
- Vermouth is gaining popularity thanks to consumer interest in lower-ABV cocktails and a slew of new expressions from both traditional and upstart producers.
- Spanish vermut made from sherry provides a unique base of flavors. For the Lustau Blanco, fino contributes a nutty, mineral character while moscatel adds sweet floral and citrus notes.
- Its complexity allows for many different applications, from sipping on its own over ice to use in both sweet and savory cocktails, such as a 50/50 martini.
Bar Calico’s Caprese Martini Recipe
- 2 oz. tomato and basil infused vodka
- 1¼ oz. Lustau Blanco
- 2 dashes of balsamic vinegar
- Pinch of salt
Method: Stir together vodka, Lustau Blanco, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Serve straight up and garnish with a cherry tomato.
Caitlin A. Miller is a New York-based wine writer and the current associate editor for SevenFifty Daily. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Vinous, and Christie’s International Real Estate Magazine. She holds the WSET Diploma in Wines and was the recipient of the 2020 Vinous Young Wine Writer Fellowship.