Published on March 14th, 2013 | by Dipsology


Spirit Spotlight: Hammer & Tongs

This is the latest installment in our series of spotlights of awesome vermouths.  Check out our Vermouth 101 for an introduction to this delicious category of beverage.

Hammer & Tongs is the brainchild of winemaker P. Andrew Taylor that launched in the spring of 2013.  We tasted his three vermouth products, all of which defy the traditional dry and sweet labels, and are quite unique.  This is another one of the awesome products we discovered at Tales of the Cocktail last year.


l’Afrique by Hammer & Tongs: This vermouth was inspired by Andrew’s childhood memories of “dank rotting leaves and earth” and he describes it as “dark, earthy and foreboding”.  Intrigued?  You should be.  Many of the botanicals (there are 23 in all) are African in origin (hence the name) and include kola nut, turmeric, bergamot, cinchona and roasted dandelion root.  Made with a Syrah wine base (a red wine, which is unusual in vermouth), it has some of the Syrah black pepper on the nose together with rich, earthy scents.  Drink it on its own, use it in a traditional cocktail for a unique spin, or create something totally new.

Sac’resine by Hammer & Tongs: Again inspired by a childhood memory – this time of visiting Catholic churches and the smell of incense – the Sac’resine is less dark tasting than the l’Afrique, but by no means light despite its pale straw color.  Andrew imagines it looks like most sweet vermouths before any caramel color is added and says it was inspired by Martini & Rossi’s original sweet vermouth.  Made with a white wine base of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, its 13 botanicals include frankincense, myrrh, thyme and grapefruit peel resulting in a sharp, focused and citrusy nose.

Chinato d’Erbetti: An American take on Barolo Chinato, the traditional aromatized wine made in Italy’s Piedmont region from Nebbiolo grapes with various blends of herbs & spices.  It has a vegetal quality on the nose along with black pepper, sandalwood and Alpine flowers.  This particular product is produced by Cana’s Feast winery, where Andrew makes lots of other wine too.

Hammer & Tongs isn’t distributed in New York yet, but you can get the Chinato and l’Afrique online.  It’s only available in 750ml bottles for now, but according to Andrew his products last longer than most so you should be able to enjoy for a few months if you pump them out and refrigerate.

To learn more about Vermouth, check out Vermouth 101, hit up Astor Wines or Drink Up NY, or just head out to your local Dipsology bar and start paying attention to the menu, engage with your server and take note of all those bottles you might have glossed over before.

Photos courtesy of Hammer & Tongs

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