Review: Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth – New Recipe 2009

People agonize over what brand gin or vodka to use in their martini, but precious little thought tends to go into the selection of vermouth. Today I’ve done something most would deem unthinkable: Drink vermouth straight.

noilly-prat-vermouth-old-bottleWhy? Because Noilly Prat, the French maker of one of the world’s best-selling brands of vermouth, is changing its recipe. Well, updating it, really: Noilly Prat is introducing its current European blend to the U.S. market, discontinuing the old American blend that’s been sold here for years (decades, maybe). The bottle design gets an update too (that’s the old one to your right, the new one is below), so you’ll be able to tell which version you’re buying as stores run out of the old stock. The new blend is scheduled to go on sale in January 2009.

How do the two compare? I definitely prefer the new, European version to the old. The original is very pale, almost clear, with a very strong bitterness overwhelming any herbal notes in the vermouth. It’s fine, but plain and unthrilling. The new version is striking in its changes but it’s still a real vermouth: It’s got a distinct, light gold color to it and hits the tongue first with some sweetness and a more pronounced herbal flavor, before then fading into a lighter bitter finish. The new Noilly Prat is quite reminiscent of Lillet Blanc and even reminded me a bit of Strega. (However, both Noilly Prat versions — tied at 36 proof — are better than Martini & Rossi dry vermouth… but of course they say you should only drink Italian vermouth if it’s sweet and stick with France for the dry.)

Of course, the true test of any dry vermouth is in a martini… and I’m happy to report the new Noilly Prat shines with either gin or vodka. Check it out!

A- / $6.50 (750ml bottle) / noillyprat.com

noilly-prat-vermouth-new-bottle

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20 Responses to Review: Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth – New Recipe 2009

  1. Pingback: Drinkhacker.com » How Long Does Vermouth Last?

  2. This review is so Wrong!
    It sounds like it was written by someone on the NP payroll. The “new” Noilly Prat is just NOT DRY vermouth. It has sweetness and added spices and flavours that have permanently removed it from my liquor cabinet. Badly done Noilly Prat.

  3. Norm – Fair enough if you don’t like it (and the same things you DON’T like I DO like… as noted in the review), but I assure you I’m not on Noilly Prat’s payroll. (Do you seriously think a vermouth company has a payola budget?)

  4. So I have a question each for Norm and for Christopher.

    Norm: What are you replacing Noilly Prat with as a dry vermouth?

    Christopher: Do you agree that the new version is sweeter? I tried your Grand Elderflower Cocktail recently and thought it was magnificent, in large part because the dry vermouth served to cut the sweetness of the St. Germain. I used the old version of Noilly Prat in that drink (as I assume you did). I wonder if a sweeter mixer will be as versatile, given the tendency that so many other drink ingredients have towards sweetness.

  5. BobZ – Yes, I absolutely agree with that. That said, I would still try NP in the Grand Elderflower Cocktail you mentioned… I am not sure what brand I used to originate it — probably not even NP — but I think it would work here again — in part because the amount in the recipe is so small. Worth a shot, anyway. If it doesn’t work out you can always make another one… ;)

  6. My husband hates your new creation. where can we buy the old one?
    He has been a Martini drinker for 60 years what will he do now?

  7. i complained to my liquor store that they had left bottles in the sun
    how can you drink a brown martini?
    my wife cooks with it now
    my search for a replacement is ongoing

  8. Dick Sallee

    But where can you find a substitute for the OLD NP? Please! The new one may be fine by itself but it’s just not a martini……..

  9. I love the new version of Noilly Prat dry vermouth (I disliked the old version). The new version has an almost floral character underlying the herbaceous and citrus flavors. It’s got a hint of sweetness, but not too much. The new Noilly Prat dry vermouth goes very well in a martini with some of the new gins I (love it with Hendrick’s or Tanqueray 10 at a ratio of 3:1). Try a twist instead of an olive. This is also very nice for just sipping over ice.

  10. To Dick Sallee: have you tried Dolin’s dry vermouth?

  11. I have tried the new Noilly Prat, not realizing that they had changed the recipe. I thought the bottle had gone bad.

  12. I love the new NP, particularly since I can’t find Lilly Blanc where I live. As Emily H says, try that Martini with a twist instead of an olive – really complements the notes in the new vermouth. Even better with a drop or two of bitters.

  13. THere was a recipe for “Noilly Pratt Meatballs” from about 40 years ago and no one in the family can now find it!!! It was one of the best meatball recipes that any of us have had made with red sweet vermouth, apple sauce, chili sauce, bread crumbs and ?? what else. Does anyone have this recipe??? It was on the bottle of Noilly Pratt vermouth about 30-40 years ago and we’ve LOST IT!!!!!

  14. Ellie, I found this online… Maybe it’s the one?

    Meatballs in Vermouth Cream Sauce
    as demontrated at the November 2003 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo by the following Toronto CPCA members: Michelle Wolfson, Cheryl Topitch, Tracey Nesbitt and Amalia LeBreque.

    Ingredients:

    2 pounds lean ground beef
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup bread crumbs
    1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
    1/2 cup Noilly Prat Vermouth
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon ketchup
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1/2 teaspoon basil
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 can beef consommé
    1 can water
    1 cup heavy cream

    Method:
    Mix beef with eggs and breadcrumbs. Roll into 1 inch balls. In a fry pan, over medium heat, cook meatballs on all sides. Transfer to hot (400 degree) oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

    In the same pan, sauté onions until they are translucent. Add garlic, paprika, basil, nutmeg and ketchup. Cook 1 minute.

    Add the Noilly Prat Vermouth, deglaze pan and reduce until thick and syrupy. Add beef consommé and water. Turn the heat to high and let the sauce boil and reduce. Add the cream and continue reducing to desired consistency.

    Taste and season with salt and pepper. Return the meatballs to the sauce and heat thoroughly.

    Serve over egg noodles or rice.

    Serves 16-20 as an appetizer or 8 for dinner.

  15. The aesthetic of the Martini is really destroyed by the straw color and sweet flavor of this abomination. Shame on you Noilly-Prat.

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  17. can someone help me pronounce Noilly Prat correctly

  18. “nwa-yee prah” is the French pronunciation, but apparently Claudius Prat was English, so I think you can also say “nwah-yee pratt.”

  19. thank you so much Evelyn

  20. Pingback: Martinis: A Primer « cinema snack bar

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