This month, Club Members got to taste an amazing dry vermouth from Bramley and Gage. Whether in a classic dry martini or drizzled over seabass in two delectable recipes from founder Edward Kain himself, the taste of this tipple is unlike any vermouth you've ever had. The success of Bramley and Gage rests not just on a commitment to quality ingredients and craft methods, but also on the firm foundations of family. Read on to learn more about this tasty drink and how to make the recipes that let it shine.
Bramley and Gage began almost by accident. In the mid-1980s, Edward Bramley Kain and Penelope Gage ran a fruit farm in South Devon – one that Edward now admits “wasn’t very successful”.
Seeking a way to make use of surplus fruit, the couple began making small batches of liqueur, macerating the fruit in alcohol. The drinks were an instant hit with local retailers, and Edward and Penelope continued to experiment different fruits them to expand the range.
While the fruit farm is no longer in the family, top quality, British produce remains at the heart of all Bramley and Gage’s drinks.
“Liqueurs capture seasonal flavours, they capture the essence of the fruit at that particular moment,” enthuses Michael, Edward and Penelope’s son who now runs the business alongside sister, Felicity.
Working alongside family certainly, Michael admits, brings challenges – “you say things to your sister that you’d never say to a colleague, perhaps!”. But it also brings much greater rewards; “Our family’s stronger now than it ever has been,” he says.
In 2010, Bramley and Gage ventured into the booming craft gin market, with their 6 O’Clock Gin. Despite launching it on what Michael describes as “an absolute shoestring”, it has proved a phenomenal success, winning a Gold Medal at the IWSC and a place on the shelves at Waitrose.
More recently, the company has launched their deliciously aromatic vermouth – which, as you’ll discover from the bottle in your box, is the perfect partner for some lovely craft gin.
Much like gin, vermouth is created by macerating a blend of botanicals in alcohol – in this case, wine rather than spirit. Vermouth in fact takes its name from the German name of one key botanical, Wermut, or wormwood, a bitter, medicinal herb that is also a key component in absinthe.
Dry vermouth first originated in Italy, where it is traditionally enjoyed neat or over ice as an aperitif. In creating their recipe, Michael explains, Bramley and Gage “use the best of Italy, acknowledging their heritage, combined with our own skill and judgement.” Good quality Italian Pinot Grigio wine, selected for its balance, acidity and richness, is combined with a unique blend of botanicals.
“Just like an orchestra, and as with 6 O'Clock Gin,” Michael says, “the various component parts go to make up the whole sound. Wormwood was essential, of course, for bitterness as well as orris root and citrus peels. The rosemary and thyme are grown just yards from the distillery.”
The particular recipe is mostly thanks to the company’s founder (and Michael’s father), Edward, who runs the product development. “Dad still does one or two days a week,” Michael explains. “He’s often found by the still, looking at samples and smelling stuff and shovelling botanicals and all of that.”
Despite the company’s many achievements under his watch, it is the business’ strong family component of which Michael is most proud. “I’m closer and happier with my family than I’ve ever been,” he says, “and to do that in business – it’s a nice feeling.”
Classic Dry Martini
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to how dry they like their Martinis, but we think this 5:1 ratio is a good place to start experimenting.
10ml Bramley and Gage Dry Vermouth
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an olive or a lemon twist.
Pan Seared Sea Bass with a Pesto and Vermouth Sauce
Served with sautéed baby new potatoes, tender stem broccoli.
50ml Bramley and Gage Dry Vermouth
2 fillets of sea bass
2 tbsp Green Pesto
150g Tender Stem Broccoli
300g Baby New Potatoes
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Pre heat your oven to 170c/ gas mark 3.
Place a non-stick sauté pan onto the heat and add a few drops of olive oil to the pan. Brush the sea bass lightly with oil and place the fillets in the pan skin-side down and slowly allow the skin to crisp up and turn golden brown.
Start steaming your Broccoli - this should take about 7-8 minutes.
Once the fish is done pour 50ml of Bramley and Gage Dry Vermouth over the fish and pan and then immediately reduce the heat and remove the fillets from the pan and place in the oven for 4 minutes.
Place two tablespoons of green pesto into the sauté pan with the vermouth and gently heat.
For the sautéed Baby New Potatoes:
Heat a skillet or heavy-based non-stick pan over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut your baby new potatoes in half and arrange flat side down in the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes until brown. Flip on their sides and cook for a further 2 minutes before flipping them on their other side and cooking for a final 2 minutes with a crack of black pepper and good pinch of salt. Plate up pouring the pesto and vermouth over the fish and serving with a lemon wedge. A glass of vermouth will go down a treat too.