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14 BEST Dry And Sweet Vermouth Substitutes + 1 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of vermouth substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.

You can make homemade versions of both dry and sweet vermouth if you have the time to spare. But if you’re in a rush, a bottle of dry sherry or suze works wonders as an alternative for dry vermouth. Meanwhile, port and sweet Madeira are excellent options for a more decadent cocktail.

Ready lets jump right in.

The experiment 

I made a few mini martinis to try different dry vermouth substitutes. 

Vermouth is a kind of fortified wine flavored with various botanical herbs and spices. It has more alcohol content because it’s fortified, clocking in at 16-18 ABV (alcohol by volume), compared to regular wine’s 9%. 

I cover both types:

Dry vermouth substitutes 

Born in the vineyards of France, dry vermouth offers a herbaceous and floral flavor profile.

Besides its pivotal role in cocktails, this fortified wine has also found its way into the kitchen and is sometimes used as a unique ingredient in soups and stews. 

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts: 

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Homemade Dry VermouthReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Dry SherryReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
SuzeReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Cocchi AmericanoReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Dry VermouthReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Lillet BlancReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Dry White WineReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10

Dry sherry

Dry sherry is my go-to quick substitute for dry vermouth (Manzanilla sherry or fino sherry in particular). 

It has a slightly sweeter flavor profile, but it’s nowhere near as sweet as sweet vermouth. 

Plus, its nutty undertones and subtle acidity mimic some of the characteristics of dry vermouth, making it a handy substitute for cocktails.

One word of caution: choose a good quality dry sherry. Cheaper variants might not provide the complexity needed to match dry vermouth.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with dry Ssherry.


Suze is an aperitif that shares the same French roots as dry vermouth. 

Its has a prominent bitterness and gentle earthy undertones with lots of lemon and pine.

I loved the yellow color it gave my martini!

Just a heads-up: Suze can be a little hard to find, but most liquor stores with a decent selection should stock it.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with suze.

Cocchi Americano

Cocchi Americano hails from Italy’s Piedmont region, and makes a surprisingly good vermouth substitute.

It’s also a fortified wine and has a bitter finish, but the first taste is sweet and honeyed.

This enchanting balance makes Cocchi Americano perfect for those looking for a sweeter note that isn’t as cloying sweet as vermouth. 

Pssst… this makes a fantastic sipping aperitif all on its own. Serve it with ice and a lemon. YUM.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with cocchi americano.

Lyre’s non-alcoholic dry vermouth

This is the perfect alternative if you’re cutting back on alcohol. 

They use alcohol-free fermented grape juice concentrate as the base and I was amazed bu how well it captured dry vermouth’s lightly spiced and herbal notes

I almost got away with fooling my taste testers!

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with lyre’s non-alcoholic dry vermouth.

Lillet blanc

This is another French fortified wine that has a slightly sweeter flavor profile than dry vermouth, but still has a prominent herbal finish.

What makes Lillet Blanc really shine is its citrus notes, which added a refreshing, summery twist to my martinis.

Pro tip: try combining Lillet Blanc and Suze (another substitute I mentioned earlier). They compliment each other well and give you a beautifully complex subs

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with lillet blanc.

Dry white wine

When you’re in a real pinch, dry white wine can step up to the plate as a vermouth substitute. 

It’s not going to be ideal, but wine’s high acidity and fruity notes can add a refreshing twist to your cocktails and give them a vibrant lift.

Plus, most households will have a bottle of white wine lying around, making it an accessible choice for those last-minute mixology sessions.

Pssst… white wine is also a good substitute if you’re cooking a soup or a stew.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with dry white wine.

Homemade dry vermouth

Making vermouth is a fun adventure and isn’t as daunting as you think! 

This simple recipe from Mountain Feed uses a base of vodka and dry white wine and infuses them with different botanicals like coriander, lemon, and fennel seeds to achieve dry vermouth’s herbaceous, floral notes. 

Some of these botanicals are tricky to find (like gentian root – I had to order mine!), but they’re a must-have for this recipe. 

And the best part?

If you also need sweet vermouth, all you have to do is swap the white wine for cream sherry.

The only downside to this DIY project? The waiting game – you’ll have to let the botanicals infuse the spirits for about 24 hours before you can enjoy your homemade fortified wine. 

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with your homemade dry vermouth.

Other substitutes to consider

The suggestions above are my top picks for vermouth substitutes, but here are other alternatives you can try if you’re feeling adventurous: 

  • Sake – This Japanese rice wine has sweet and savory notes, making it a good stand-in for dry vermouth. Its light flavor can beautifully mimic the nuanced herbal notes of vermouth, bringing a delightful twist to your cocktails and dishes. For best results, opt for dryer sakes like Junmai. 
  • Absinthe – A decent option if you want a boozier drink, thanks to its high alcohol content(47-74% ABV). It also has complex herbal notes reminiscent of vermouth, although it’s a lot more potent, so don’t add too much.
  • Olive brine – this is another non-alcoholic substitute you can replace vermouth with in a martini. It reduces the drink to essentially salty vodka which sounds pretty gross but is actually quite nice.

Avoid using Shaoxing wine

You can use dry vermouth as a substitute for Shaoxing wine (in a pinch), but it doesn’t work the other way around.

Shaoxing wine is lower in alcohol, and while it is similarly dry it doesn’t have any of the herbaceous or floral notes vermouth has.

Sweet vermouth substitutes

Sweet vermouth was first produced in Italy.

As its name suggests, it boasts a prominent sweetness and spiced herbal notes, making it an excellent base for cocktails like Negronis and Manhattans. 

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

For sweet vermouth

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Red wineReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
PortReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Sweet sherryReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Sweet Madeira WineReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Punt e MesReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
AvernaReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Lillet RougeReplace in a 1:1 ratio7/10
Homemade Sweet VermouthReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10

Red wine

For a quick and easy substitute, mix red wine with a simple syrup (a sugar and water mix).

It’s best to use a dry red wine like cabernet sauvignon or merlot because these have similar bitter undertones to vermouth.

And if you want to get fancy, you can try sweetening the wine with something else. Like a ginger syrup or even the liquid from a jar of cherries.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with sweetened red wine.


Port is another readily available substitute. 

It’s a fortified wine like sweet vermouth.

And with various options, you can tinker with your cocktails to make them as sweet as you’d like.

I recommend going with the ruby port if you want a close match to the sweetness of vermouth.

But I went with a tawny port, which offered a decadent mix of nutty and caramel notes and made my Manhattan taste like dessert – the perfect treat after a long day of taste testing!

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with port.

Sweet Madeira wine

Sweet Madeira wine is another delightful fortified wine you can use instead of sweet vermouth. 

It has rich, caramel notes, with hints of spice, orange peel, and dried fruit that give it a complex flavor.

Psst… sweet Madeira wine is a treat all on its own, Don’t be shy to pour yourself a glass to enjoy outside of your cocktail-making!

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with sweet Madeira wine.

Sweet sherry

Sherry’s making a second apperance!

You can either go with a dry sherry and add a simple syrup like with the red wine.

Or use a sweet sherry like Pedro Ximénez or Moscate. These are made from overripe grapes so are naturally more sugary.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with sweet Madeira wine.

Punt e mes

Looking for something a little less sweet and syrupy? Try using Punt e Mes instead. 

It shares the same Italian roots as sweet vermouth but has a characteristic bitter undertone, which complements the sweet notes nicely. 

The name refers to the flavor being half a “point” of bitterness and one “point” of sweetness!

This bitterness added an edge to my Manhattan and that I thought was really delicious.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with Punt e Mes.

Averna (or other Amaro spirits)

Averna is an amaro spirit, a family of herbal liquors with a bitter taste (amaro translates to bitter in Italian). They’re not cheap, but it’s always good to have a bottle!

Averna is a great stand-in if you want something boozier because it’s about 29% ABV compared to sweet vermouth’s 16-18%.

And it’s still got a hint of sweetness to round out the bitter herbs.

Pro tip: you can also use other amaro’s like cynar.

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with averna.

Lillet rouge

Want to switch up your Manhattan, but not with a bitter edge? Give French Lillet Rouge a whirl! 

This aperitif wine is less sweet than sweet vermouth and is more citrus-forward, offering a burst of brightness in every sip. 

It’s the perfect pick if you want to lighten up your cocktails, especially for those warm summer evenings. 

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with lillet rouge.

Homemade sweet vermouth

You can use the recipe for dry vermouth above, but this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is my favourite for sweet vermouth. 

It involves macerating (soaking) the botanicals in vodka to infuse it with flavor, then sweetening it with homemade caramel. 

Then you add hibiscus tea to give the drink a reddish tint and a tart note for a more balanced flavor. 

The final step is mixing the infused vodka with white wine – a quality Pinot Grigio is a good choice. 

Pro-tip: Feel free to tweak the recipe based on your preferences – for example you can try experimenting with the white wine you mix in. 

How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with homemade sweet vermouth.

Other substitutes to consider

The options above are my top picks for sweet vermouth substitutes, but here are other alternatives you can try if you have them on hand: 

  • The Bitter Truth EXR – This German liqueur balances bitterness with a complex blend of herbs and spices instead of lots of sweetness.
  • Bonal – a French aperitif combining gentian roots and herbs, macerated in mistelle, then aged in oak. It’s sweet but again has a prominent bitterness that’ll give you cocktails lots of depth.
  • Dubonnet Red – another French aperitif wine with a delightful blend of sweetness, bitterness, and spice. It’s perfect for those who love sweet vermouth but want a slightly fruitier edge to their cocktails. 
  • Grand Marnier – a French liqueur made from cognac and bitter orange. Its robust citrus flavor combined with the natural sweetness from the cognac base makes it a delightfully citrusy alternative for vermouth. 

How to replace vermouth in cooking

If you’re cooking with vermouth the best substitutes are dry white wine for dry vermouth, and sweetened red wine for sweet vermouth.

For dry vermouth, you can also consider white wine vinegar or lemon juice but add half the amount so the acidity isn’t overwhelming.

For sweet vermouth, 2 parts balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 part water is another good replacement.

For a really easy swap, use chicken broth.

Best Vermouth Substitutes

I tested loads of vermouth substitutes to find the best one. I also included a homemade version of dry vermouth if you're up for the challenge.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: French, Italian
Keyword: substitutes for vermouth, vermouth substitutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Infusion time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 25 minutes
Servings: 4 cups
Calories: 45kcal


  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp chamomile
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • ½ tsp nigella seed
  • 4 to 6 fresh sage leaves, or 1 tbsp of dried sage
  • 1 allspice berry
  • zest of ½ orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp gentian root
  • 3 tbsp vodka
  • 4 cups (1 bottle) driest white wine


  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the coriander, chamomile, fennel, nigella, sage, and allspice.
  • Add the crushed herbs in a small saucepan with remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave it to cool.
  • Transfer the mixture into a large jar and allow to rest overnight up to 24 hours.
  • Strain the mixture into a sterilized bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 45kcal

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