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View Full Version : Who's Tried the "New" Old Noilly Prat?



Phog Allen
05-25-2009, 04:18 PM
Good evening chaps. I was looking over the Classic Cocktail thread in the Speakeasy today. What a great resource. I for one am only too happy to see a sensible return of the classic mixed drinks of our Golden Age forbears. They are classic and for good reason. They stand the test of time and people keep coming back to them time and time again.

As for the venerable Martini, I have to confess that I have never had one. It is just as well. With all the vodka "martini" formulas out there, along with the James Bond "shaken, not stirred" images, it is no wonder the old classic underwent some sort of identity crisis these last twenty years. Now I am not arguing against anyone's liquor of choice. It is probably more personal than our shave lathers and we all know how personal that gets. Drink what you like and enjoy it. However, I have looked at many classic formulas for a Martini and found NOTHING to suggest it ever was or is intended to be other than gin based. I like gin and only really discovered that in the last ten years. So with that "settled", ahem, we now get down to the vermouth. More specifically Noilly Prat.

From what I gather, Noilly dry had become sort of a de facto standard for American Martinis. As I found out in the Martini thread, Noilly is changing its U.S. version of dry vermouth to that which is sold worldwide. This has of course left some Martini afficianados in great distress. I had recently purchased a bottle of the U.S. version just for mixing Martinis. I am thinking of purchasing a bottle of the "new" stuff as well. For a novice Martini drinker I think it will be neat to get to try each side by side. So, is there a B&B'er who has tried the latest version? If so, what do you think of it? I strongly suspect this version was used in the earliest Martinis. It would be interesting to get the opinion of an early mixologist as to the differences in taste. I am also intrigued by using it as an apertif which was its original intent. And last, if this version does not sit well with me, do you have an alternative suggestion? I have seen good reviews of a vermouth name Vya. Thoughts?

Regards, Todd

Noillyhttp://www.noillyprat.com/lda.aspx?ReturnUrl=/default.aspx

Dennis
05-26-2009, 07:32 AM
Todd, I am with you. Never tried a martini. Robert Hess (Drink Boy) had a recent post on the Noilly Prat switch (http://www.drinkboy.com/Articles/Article.aspx?itemid=37) and taste test. I have been making Margaritas this week and experimenting. The Sidecar is going to be next and then will move onto something else after that.

Obsessed
05-26-2009, 07:35 AM
As I mentioned in another thread, you may want to try Dolin vermouth.

Ken
05-26-2009, 09:16 AM
Boissiere is another excellent brand.

ouch
05-26-2009, 09:19 AM
Why on Earth would they change the formula?

Crazy Dave
05-26-2009, 10:47 AM
I have been usinig Noilly Prat in my Martinis for years. When I last bought it, I did notice the bottle was different, but the Martinis still tasted great. I did not know until I read these post that they had changed the formula. However, I make my Martinis very dry. I will try some Noilly Prat straight tonight to see if I can detect a difference. I whish I had an old bottle to compare!

Dave

clubman
05-26-2009, 12:13 PM
I have seen good reviews of a vermouth name Vya. Thoughts?

Vya is very nice (and not cheap, for a vermouth!) but not really a good sub for Noilly Prat in a Martini IMHO - the reason for all the hullabaloo regarding the formula switch is that the old US (i.e. drier, less flavorful) version is being switched to the Euro one (not so dry, more flavorful). Vya in turn has MUCH more going on than the Euro Noilly by far (it's a very nice aperitif), so you're really ending up with a different drink than the Martini most everyone is used to. In something like a Manhattan where you're using sweet vermouth the added complexity of Vya is nice, but for a Martini the dry Vya doesn't work so well.

Personally, I've got enough dry NP lying around (I always get it in the small bottles so it's no big deal to toss it after it's been open for a few weeks) to last me quite a while based on my current Martini consumption (every now and then). Probably the best replacement for NP "classic" would be the standard brands that have been around for ages and ages, e.g. Martini & Rossi and Cinzano. These are much more in line with the flavor profile of the old Noilly Prat....

ratcheer
05-26-2009, 02:29 PM
Why on Earth would they change the formula?

Easy answer - money. It is apparent to me that they were not selling enough of the U. S. formula to make it a viable product. They decided to market the sweeter worldwide formula hoping to attract a new demographic, women who want an aperitif wine. Even if they don't sell more of the "new" product, they still come out ahead because they don't have to manage making two different kinds.

While "martinis" have become wildly popular, true martinis made with dry vermouth are probably becoming less and less prevalent. They are certainly nowhere near as popular as they were in the 40's through 60's.

Tim

Phog Allen
05-26-2009, 03:54 PM
Todd, I am with you. Never tried a martini. Robert Hess (Drink Boy) had a recent post on the Noilly Prat switch (http://www.drinkboy.com/Articles/Article.aspx?itemid=37) and taste test. I have been making Margaritas this week and experimenting. The Sidecar is going to be next and then will move onto something else after that.

Thanks for the link Dennis. I will get over there and read it through. Should have used the search function first shouldn't I?:redface:


As I mentioned in another thread, you may want to try Dolin vermouth.

You sure did and I forgot about it. Thanks.



Vya is very nice (and not cheap, for a vermouth!) but not really a good sub for Noilly Prat in a Martini IMHO - the reason for all the hullabaloo regarding the formula switch is that the old US (i.e. drier, less flavorful) version is being switched to the Euro one (not so dry, more flavorful). Vya in turn has MUCH more going on than the Euro Noilly by far (it's a very nice aperitif), so you're really ending up with a different drink than the Martini most everyone is used to. In something like a Manhattan where you're using sweet vermouth the added complexity of Vya is nice, but for a Martini the dry Vya doesn't work so well.

Personally, I've got enough dry NP lying around (I always get it in the small bottles so it's no big deal to toss it after it's been open for a few weeks) to last me quite a while based on my current Martini consumption (every now and then). Probably the best replacement for NP "classic" would be the standard brands that have been around for ages and ages, e.g. Martini & Rossi and Cinzano. These are much more in line with the flavor profile of the old Noilly Prat....

Thanks Clubman. I am always reminded why I hang around B&B when I read these posts. It would take weeks of experimenting and tons of dollars to garner the information you guys pass along here for free. The Vya sounds like something I would like to try. I have not drank apertifs much before because to be frank, I just didn't know where to start and even asking at a restaurant usually elicits a dumbfounded stare. Thanks again.

Regards, Todd

Obsessed
05-27-2009, 07:53 AM
You sure did and I forgot about it. Thanks.

Well, that thread has gotten buried because I haven't had much chance for mixology recently. I had planned to do a taste test of gin:vermouth rations from 2:1 to 6:1, but stalled out after the first one!

Crazy Dave
05-27-2009, 08:39 AM
I tried some new Noilly Prat "neat" last night and it was quite enjoyable. I did not have the old stuff to compare, but it seemed a little smoother and more refined. It is not as dry but it certainly was not sweet. I think it is an improvement.

I continued the test with 8 parts Bombay Sapphire to one part Noilly Prat, shaken and strained into a chilled Martini glass, topped off with 4 small olives on a toothpick. It passed the test with flying colors!

Dave

Scotto
06-01-2009, 05:48 PM
I tried the new stuff tonight head to head with the old in some martinis. I am not a huge fan of gin, so I took one for the team. :wink: The bottles were freshly opened and mixed 3:1 tanqueray gin to the vermouth, stirred over ice, and served up without garnishes.

Net: no contest, the new stuff tastes better. Much more alive in the glass, a tad sweeter, more complex. In this case, the reformulation was for the better, although some may not like the yellow tint.

clubman
06-01-2009, 07:00 PM
Net: no contest, the new stuff tastes better. Much more alive in the glass, a tad sweeter, more complex. In this case, the reformulation was for the better, although some may not like the yellow tint.

That's the problem some folks are having with the new (Euro) stuff - it adds some stronger flavors, enhanced aromatics and billious color that were not part of the Martini in the past. While it's undoubtably a "better" vermouth, the resulting drink ain't what Nick and Nora were swilling.

Phog Allen
06-01-2009, 09:46 PM
Thank you Scotto. As I have said before, I strongly suspect this "new" version is what was in most Martinis until, well, the "old" version was launched here. To be honest, I don't know when that was. Personally, I am all about robust flavours so this should be fun. BTW, I grabbed a bottle of the new this weekend so I can do a side by side comparison with the old. I will try them straight, as an apertif and then try my hand at mixing my first Martinis. I am a bit excited at this. My first Martinis and I get to try two products from the same line.

Regards, Todd

TimmyBoston
06-01-2009, 10:00 PM
were not part of the Martini in the past. While it's undoubtably a "better" vermouth, the resulting drink ain't what Nick and Nora were swilling.

Is that true? I'm not saying it isn't, I don't know. When did they make the switch to the "American" formula?

GoldenMonkey
06-01-2009, 10:11 PM
The Martini was invented in Martinez, CA, birthplace of Joe DiMaggio, as legend has it. I'm sure they used American vermouth, lol...

I use N-P in my Manhattans. I'll do 50/50 dry/sweet vermouth (N-P and Punt e Mes) like so:
2 oz bourbon or rye
.75 oz 50/50 vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters
gently shaken to avoid bruising
optional - a couple drops of cherry juice
one or two marischino cherries for garnish (I love my cherries!)

For a Martini, I prefer them dry, so it's:
2 oz cold vodka
.5 oz N-P dry vermouth
2 dashes bitters
shaken, not stirred, lol...
two olives (already in vermouth) -or- lemon twist

Either way, I'd prefer my bourbon neat, but a cocktail or five is nice sometimes too...

clubman
06-02-2009, 06:33 AM
Is that true? I'm not saying it isn't, I don't know. When did they make the switch to the "American" formula?

From reading the aforementioned WSJ article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154573030469717.html) it sounds like they've been importing drier, lighter vermouths into the US especially for our Martini needs since the 40's, at least.

I think this bit from the article pretty much sums it up:


As an aperitif meant to be sipped on its own, the European Noilly Prat succeeds admirably, and has to be seen as an improvement over the vermouth the company has been shipping our way for decades. It may even attract the youngish, female drinkers who are clearly the new target audience. But the world-weary sophisticates for whom the Martini is a violet-hour balm will want to look elsewhere for the cocktail component, perhaps trying the dry French vermouths from Boissiere or Dolin.

Phog Allen
06-02-2009, 04:07 PM
Good evening gents. I just opened the new Noilly Prat and poured it into a what could best be described as a champagne flute. This glass was the smallest I could find that had a tapered top to hold the bouquet a bit. We actually got it as a freebie from a local Italian restaurant as part of our dessert. It had a slightly frozen Limoncello in it. Delicious. Besides, as I mentioned, it is the smallest glass I have. I really need to get some proper wine glasses. Anyroad, my initial sense is this is not as dry, and lifeless I might add, as some of the ATROCIOUS white wines I have been given before as a light, before the meal drink. It is indeed a very pale straw colour. It has a very pleasant aroma and I could swear this wine is fortified. It has that same little "something" aroma I get from tawny port or especially a sherry. I can see why this is considered an apertif. It is certainly not dry as gin and tonic dry but neither is it the cloying goop you see described on blogs. I think it is being exactly what it intends to be; a very decent, bargain priced apetif drink that you needn't fuss with. Just chill and serve. I can also see why this gets used in cooking. That little something I described is right at home in the skillet. I would absolutely love to try a basic white sauce flavoured with this over some steamed scallops.

Okay, this tells you exactly what? I don't know. I am not well versed in wines and could not sit here and tell you what I sensed in taste or smell notes while imbibing this wine. I just like it and that is good enough for me. I will most assuredly be trying a Martini with this and a Manhattan as well. Give a go chaps. About ten dollars at any spirits store.

Regards, Todd

clubman
06-02-2009, 05:06 PM
It has a very pleasant aroma and I could swear this wine is fortified.

Well, vermouth IS a fortified wine, so you're right on the money there! :tongue_sm


That little something I described is right at home in the skillet. I would absolutely love to try a basic white sauce flavoured with this over some steamed scallops.

Vermouth is always a good "cooking wine" to have on hand, in that an open bottle is going to stay relatively drinkable in the fridge for much longer than an open bottle of regular white wine - I find that while it starts to lose its zing after a few weeks, maybe a month, it doesn't go OFF like wine in the fridge after a couple of days. Vive vermouth, whatever formula you're using! :thumbup1:

Phog Allen
06-02-2009, 05:40 PM
You know Clubman, I am usually completely anal about reading labels on personal use type items. Especially foods, drinks. Just nosy I suppose. Yet I felt so comfortable with buying this wine based on the almost universal praise and the history of the product, I just grabbed it and headed for home. Glad to see I got the fortefied part of it right. Thanks.

Regards, Todd

Crazy Dave
06-15-2009, 09:41 AM
I fond some of the old style. It is quite different. There is a very pronounced dry flavor. I still prefer the new, but I can see how some might prefer the old Amierican style.

Dave

ratcheer
06-20-2009, 06:50 PM
I fond some of the old style. It is quite different. There is a very pronounced dry flavor. I still prefer the new, but I can see how some might prefer the old Amierican style.

Dave

Are you talking about just tasting the vermouth or the taste of a dry martini made with it?

I do not deny that the new formula would taste better as a stand-alone wine. The uproar is because the old formula was designed with the American-style dry martini specifically in mind and has been imported for that use for quite a few decades. It is martini drinkers who are upset about the change.

Tim

langod
06-22-2009, 01:00 PM
While "martinis" have become wildly popular, true martinis made with dry vermouth are probably becoming less and less prevalent. They are certainly nowhere near as popular as they were in the 40's through 60's. Tim

This is sadly true -- I have actually found bartenders who's idea of a martini is all gin and no vermouth! (This is of course when you can get them to understand that a true martini doesn't have chocolate, apple, etc.) The whole macho "just clink the vermouth bottle on the martini glass" style of dry martini has ruined a generation of bartenders. (and martini consumers.)

I have actually made martinis for people who were used to vermouth-less "glasses of gin" and they were amazed at how good a "real" Martini actually is (I like 5:1 ratio, slightly dirty and shaken.)