We the free-thinking folk of The Ethicurean restaurant in Somerset, proudly present our house vermouth, The Collector. The creation of this drink has drawn on the complementary skills and passions of four friends. Foragers, chefs, mixologists and researchers, we embarked on a vermouth adventure that led us from garden and field to the Cocktail bar and restaurant. It was a journey rich in experimentation. We are no strangers to a good challenge, having already won a Young British Foodie Award for our Somerset version of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.
We started making vermouth in 2009 and after 3 years we were finally convinced we had perfected the recipe and began serving our handcrafted drink at the The Ethicurean restaurant in 2012. Since we poured the first glass customers have continued to ask when we will provide them with a bottle they can take home. More recently, our many friends in the food and drinks business keep telling us they are very keen to serve and sell our vermouth in their bars, restaurants and shops. It was time to make this English vermouth available for everybody to enjoy.
Before we produce each batch of vermouth we collect together a selection of 20 botanicals grown in our English walled garden, including bay, rosemary, sage, wormwood and yarrow. We then gather wild ingredients from the countryside around us and from the Mendip Hills, including rowan berries and scots pine. With these ingredients we make botanical tinctures using spirit distilled from organic cider apples grown in Hereford. We then blend these botanical tinctures with a handmade caramel made from English sugar and a white wine made from 100% Malvasia grapes, grown and fermented by the Sartori family in Italy’s Veneto region. Our small batch production takes place in a converted Victorian glasshouse overlooking the walled garden and the hills beyond.
Decisions are always simpler over a good drink and while sat around the dinner table we decided on the name of our creation, it was to be The Collector. This was on account of our personal delight in collecting objects of flavour and beauty. Any visitor to The Ethicurean will see the drying bundles of herbs hanging from the walls and beams. They will see the jars of foraged ingredients and botanical tinctures. The name is in reference to those “relentless in their endeavour for the particular”.
The Collector Vermouth brings new character to traditional cocktails and is excellent served as a sipping drink, on ice with a fragrant bay leaf. On the palate there is an initial sweetness that gives way to satiating bitter notes of gentian, dried citrus fruit, roasted chestnuts and marmalade. During the development of our recipe we always intended it to be a great pairing with food, particularly in the place of a dessert wine. It has also found its way into our famous salt marsh lamb dish on The Ethicurean’s menu.
We hand bottle and number our vermouth, sealing our unique recipe with a crystal Vinolok. As well as keeping The Collector Vermouth safe in the bottle, the Vinolok gives a reassuring clink, just like a good old fashioned decanter. When you find yourself with an empty bottle of The Collector we would love you to re-use the bottle for your own family recipe.
Jack, Matthew, Iain and Paûla.