Dry Vermouth Sangaree

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If there’s one thing I hate about living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s the stretch of time from late October until late June, when the sun makes only the most occasional of appearances. I typically pack on an extra 10-15 pounds during those rainy months, partly due to over-consumption of wintertime drinks like dark beer, egg nog, hot-buttered-anything and wassail. I wanted a drink for the winter that I could add to my cocktail menu that was more like the light, café-style cocktails I typically gravitate to during the summer.

Jerry Thomas prescribed a drink called “sangaree” that, to the best of our knowledge was a colonial adaptation of the Spanish “sangria”. The recipe, which calls for anywhere from 1½ to 4 ounces of port, Madeira, gin or brandy dolled up with sugar and dusted with nutmeg in a glass sounded less than exciting to me, but the challenge of updating this old chestnut sounded like a fun January task.

We began with ruby and tawny ports but found both way too sweet. White port got us much closer to our target, but it wasn’t until a healthy dose of dry vermouth was applied that we knew we were on to something. To provide additional depth and hint at the drink’s colonial origins we sweetened with a maple-nutmeg syrup and finished the whole thing off with a teaspoon of allspice liqueur and orange oil.

The Dry Vermouth Sangaree Print Me

  • 3 oz/90 ml dry vermouth
  • ½ oz/15 ml maple-nutmeg syrup*
  • 1 tsp/5 ml allspice or pimento dram
  • 1 large strip orange peel
  1. Shake everything - yes, even the orange peel - with ice until well-chilled and strain into a cold cocktail glass.
  2. Garnish with a fresh strip of orange peel.
  3. *To make maple-nutmeg syrup, combine 8 ounces each of Grade B maple syrup and water, and 1 tbsp freshly-grated nutmeg. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Let cool, strain out solids, bottle and chill.

Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com

18 Replies to “Dry Vermouth Sangaree”

  • Tokyo Tea says:

    Was curious if there was a particular reason why you shook this cocktail rather than stirring it during preparation?

  • juliana says:

    Okay, I think I’ve found the Starbelly Variation:

    3 oz. Noilly Prat Dry
    1 oz. maple-allspice-nutmeg syrup (since I can’t use the St. Elizabeth)
    1 oz. lemon juice
    orange peel

    I’m still looking for something to give me the rum flavor without, you know, being rum, but it’s a start.

  • Doug says:

    Jeff- For the Maple Nutmeg syrup, is it 8oz each of Syrup and water?


  • Tom says:

    Bringing it back to your old home town. Eugene is responding well to your advances! (as per usual)

  • Jameson's says:

    Sounds amazingly delicious. Maybe you should come down and make a batch for the next employee party.

  • Jen Olmstead says:

    This was freaking delicious. What else do you suggest for the Maple Nutmeg syrup, since I now have that onhand? Would probably be delicious in my old fashioned, too?

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