Imbue is a hand crafted aperitif wine company from Portland, Oregon; products made with love by three veterans of the wine, restaurant and bar industry. In fact, the start-up company's funds began "without outside investment… seed money all came from bar tips and borrowed wine." I like their style. They take Pinot Gris grapes, secret herbs and spices (like all great producers hotly guard their recipes) and distillate from the famed local Clear Creek Distillery. Right now they have 2 aperitif offerings available, their flagship Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth and Petal & Thorn which aims to be stylistically like an Amaro (Italian Bitter) but aperitif rather than digestif.
The golden straw colored vermouth is excellent with characteristic herb flavors like thyme and lavender. There is also citrus and vanilla. While it worked great in a martini (I used 2 oz of gin, 1 oz of Imbue vermouth, with lemon verbena bitters and a lemon peel), I think I like it better on the rocks as an aperitif before dinner.
Petal & Thorn has a red hue from beet juice, orange citrus elements and is also bittersweet with a ton of cinnamon. I think I know what happened: The famous Czech bitter Becherovka travelled to Italy and had a Roman holiday with the Italian Amaro Montenegro. The daughter of the affair is Petal & Thorn, ready for cocktails. Nick Demjen of Origin Beverage played around and has a terrific Manhattan variation- 2oz Rye, 1/2 oz Imbue Petal and Thorn, 1/4 oz Meletti Amaro, 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino, Luxardo cherry garnish, 2 dases Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Bitters.
Nick kindly visited mutually friend and one of the best bartenders around Todd Maul at Clio. On the fly he came up with a delicious and esoteric blend of Plymouth Gin, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Imbue Bittersweet, snap pea essence and shimeji mushroom.
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