Lyre’s is based out of Australia and offers “Impossibly Crafted Non-Alcoholic Spirits.” The Aperitif Rosso (photo with older label – formerly Vermouth Rosso) is their non-alcoholic version of a sweet vermouth. This is a review of the non-alcoholic vermouth, with brand recipes taste tested.
If you are considering this product for making mocktails, hopefully the taste testing notes will help you decide how you would like to use it.
Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso tastes primarily of sweet vanilla and caramel, then bitter citrus pith on the finish (especially if you get a mouthful). In addition to these flavors, Lyre’s also mentions blood orange and cacao.
At first sip, it is not very bitter, but is still mildly convincing as a substitute for sweet vermouth.
After trying it in several mocktails, it is best used with a premium tonic water as one of the ingredients. The quinine really helps boost the bitterness and enhance the flavors.
How it’s made: Lyre’s spirits are all made by carefully blending natural essences and extracts. Their label design is really fun and each bottle is unique. Keep reading below for the full taste test and results.
Best enjoyed in: Non-Alcoholic Americano
In order to thoughtfully review a product, it must be tested. Here’s the method taken for taste testing all non-alcoholic spirits:
What Does Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso Taste Like…
- On ice
- On ice with tonic or appropriate single mixer
- Brand recommended mocktails
- Get creative
Aperitif Rosso, when tasted neat, is very sweet at first, then only slightly bitter. Get a mouthful and swish it around, then you really start to notice the bitter more prominently. This is only mildly useful, since you probably won’t be swishing your mocktail around in your mouth as you drink it.
Aperitif Rosso leans more vanilla, caramel, and bitter citrus pith (that white stuff between the rind and the fruit). Lyre’s makes note of these flavors you might also taste: blood orange, vanilla, caramel, citrus pith, and cacao.
#2 On Ice
When you add ice, it starts to open up a bit more aromatically, but still very sweet.
#3 On Ice with Tonic Water
Fever Tree Tonic Water poured over Aperitif Rosso makes an interesting aperitivo. The bitter quinine helps to neutralize the sweetness of the non-alcoholic spirit a bit. Add a sliver of lemon peel, and you will begin to think there might be vermouth in your glass.
With this promising start, on to testing out some recommended mocktails from Lyre’s…
#4 Brand Recommended Mocktails featuring Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso
Lyre’s is unique in the world of non-alcoholic spirits. Since they offer a few bitter/aperitif options, they are able to attempt recreating classic cocktails exclusively with their spirits. Here are three ways they recommend enjoying Aperitif Rosso (link to check price on Amazon), and how the drinks actually taste.
- 30ml Italian Orange
- 30ml Aperitif Rosso
- 90ml Premium bottled tonic water
Build over ice in a highball glass and stir. Garnish with an orange wheel.
Verdict: This is convincing as an Americano mocktail. Substitute approved. This was also tried with the more traditionally used club soda, but it ended up too sweet to be considered a substitute for an Americano (not a bad beverage either). The tonic really helped add some bitterness to the beverage. Here’s a revised version of Lyre’s Americano with the specific tonic used: Non-Alcoholic Americano
- 30ml (1oz) Lyre’s Dry London Spirit
- 30ml (1oz) Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso
- 30ml (1oz) Lyre’s Italian Orange
Stir briefly over a fresh ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass.
Verdict: Lyre’s Negroni is not a suitable substitute for a Negroni. It’s too sweet, but perhaps a fine non-alcoholic aperitivo. It just doesn’t taste like a Negroni. Still, it was fun to craft a classic mocktail with a large ice ball.
- 60ml (2oz) Lyre’s American Malt
- 15ml (0.5oz) Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso
- 2 Dashes Aromatic Bitters
Stir briefly with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Verdict: Lyre’s Manhattan had me reaching for Brad Thomas Parsons’ AMARO book looking for something to wash my mouth out. This non-alcoholic version of a Manhattan is not an approved substitute. It’s too sweet and tastes of faux caramel flavoring.
#5 Get Creative
Previous experimentation has proven Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso works best in a non-alcoholic Americano or simply mixed with tonic water. However, Lyre’s makes their mocktails exclusively with Lyre’s spirits, so Aperitif Rosso needs to be tested as a sweet vermouth on it’s own.
After all the sweetness, naturally, I made a Negroni…a real one. I just subbed sweet vermouth for Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso. Usually equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, I found it needed more Aperitif Rosso to stand up to the Campari, but it worked.
That’s too easy though, since Campari has such a strong presence.
Beyond that, I had to know: how does it stack up side by side with the vermouth (Carpano Antica and Cocchi di Torino) and various bitters currently in my collection?
Well, as one would guess, it’s not nearly as bitter, it doesn’t have as much depth of flavor, nor does it have a bite. Hoping it might be more like amaro, I tried that as well, but without the alcohol content, it just isn’t.
Let’s say I had not tasted alcohol in a while, I might think it reminded me of Gran Classico. I tried that too, and it just doesn’t have that medicinal flavor profile you would expect, so it can’t really be called a Gran Classico substitute either.
However, Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso stood up as a sweet vermouth in an alcoholic beverage, as well as some of the above tested drinks, so there’s hope for finding its fit in more non-alcoholic cocktails. For now, give it a try in the Non-Alcoholic Americano or simply with tonic water.
Click here for the best available price for Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso on Amazon.
Water, Non-Alcoholic Fermented Grape Juice Concentrate, Sugar, Natural flavoring, Caramel Sugar Syrup, Colouring Concentrate From Carrot, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Stabiliser: Cellulose Gum (E466), Acid: Citric Acid.
VEGAN, DAIRY FREE, NUT FREE, EGG FREE, GLUTEN FREE;
Nutrition: Serving size: 30ml | 20 calories; Fat 0g; Carbohydrates 5g; Sugar 5g; Sodium 5mg; Protein 0g*
*Nutrition information was found on the bottle and might be subject to change.
Storage: Refrigeration not necessary. Consume within 12 weeks from opening.