Officially launched in January of 2013, Uncouth Vermouth is the creation of Bianca Miraglia, whose products consist of seasonal releases of incomparable vermouths. Bianca’s natural wine background and penchant for authentic, unadulterated products made by artisans in small batches has shaped the philosophy that guides her decisions when it comes to making new expressions of Uncouth. Whether you want to have the most interesting after-work apèritif or some of the most versatile ingredients you could dream up for some top-notch cocktails, these are serious libations that deserve your attention.
What inspired you to start Uncouth Vermouth?
I was creating cocktails for pop-up events and kept wanting a vermouth that didn’t taste like the ones available to me. I have a natural wine background and was compelled to take it to another level and connect with not only the grapes, but all edible plants. It became very important for me to avoid any sweeteners and stay “true to the grape.” I continued to dig further until Uncouth was born, and, like all babies, Uncouth has completely taken over my life.
How do you go about sourcing your ingredients and deciding what to create?
I take a seasonal approach and source plants that are available during production. In some cases, I’m foraging plants, nuts, and fruits, and in others I’m working with local, land-responsible farmers. I have made over 300 grape and plant compositions and I still have insufficient explanations for the chemistry in your mouth that takes place when combining so many different plants. All I know is what has worked and what has absolutely not.
Serrano Chile and Lavender
Your products are markedly different from other conventional vermouths. How do you see people enjoying your expressions? As wines? As cocktail ingredients? With food? Any caveats?
Vermouth is wine. If you’re holding onto bottles, they belong in a 50-60 degree environment on their sides (unless they’re screw cap), respected the same way you would an aging wine. If you open a bottle, it belongs in the refrigerator. Since vermouth is fortified with a fruit (usually grape) spirit, it should live in your fridge for at least a few weeks, up to a couple months, depending. I never set out to make a cocktail mixer. That being said, I make cocktails with them all the time and adore a great cocktail. I encourage you to try them on their own, and then do what ever you want with them. They’re wonderful for cooking as well, and, if you do let a bottle “go bad,” it’s really just making the slow climb to vinegar. Plenty of sauces, poaching meats and fish, risotto, and even fried eggs can benefit greatly from this stage of vermouth. Keep a larger format wine bottle or growler around and dump all your “old” wines and vermouth to have around for cooking. You’ll be so happy you did.
As for enjoying my expressions, I recommend a 3oz pour, either 10 minutes out of the fridge or cool to the touch, in a wine glass. Or on the rocks with a dash of bitters and a twist of any citrus you have on hand.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced starting your own company?
Having no money and no investors is always the biggest challenge. I am constantly spinning plates to stay alive. It’s exciting, and every month that I am still in business I am grateful. I never get too far ahead of myself and I never take the good days for granted. We did have a little bit of bad weather almost two years ago (Hurricane Sandy), where my entire launch production was wiped out along with every cent I ever saved; there is still a lot of trauma all over Red Hook, but the beauty of Red Hook is that everybody gets up everyday and fights. It’s inspiring and gives me even more reason to persevere.
What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about Uncouth?
This is a tiny operation, fueled by small batches made seasonally. As such, every batch is unique, celebrating both batch and bottle variation. I’ve never set out to make a “consistent product,” but, instead, a liquid, consumable art.