SALEM, Ore. -- The Oregon Legislature has passed a bill that will allow the sale of vermouth – an essential ingredient for martinis and Manhattans – at the state’s growing number of craft distilleries.
Thirty-four distilleries across the state belong to the decade-old Oregon Distiller’s Guild, and two more soon will open.
They range from giants such as McMenamin’s Edgefield Distillery and Rogue Spirits, to smaller operations such as Dayton’s Branch Point Whiskey.
All but two offer public tastings, where they are allowed to sell samples of mixed drinks, including martinis and Manhattans, to tempt tasters to purchase their spirits, sold on-site.
But state law prohibits distilleries from also selling the vermouth they’ve used to create the drinks.
"People got the brainy idea that vermouth is wine, so we have to have this bill so people can have their martinis," Fred Girod, R-Stayton, who carried the bill in the Senate, said.
House Bill 2089 allows retail distilleries, as well as liquor stores, to sell up to 20 kinds of vermouth for off-premise consumption.
“You can go into a distillery and they can serve you a martini or Manhattan. When you are done with your sample, you can buy the gin, you can buy the vodka, you can even buy the olives. But you can’t buy the vermouth,” Rep. David Gomberg, D-Central Coast, said.
“Now, good Oregonians can go home after their visit to a distillery with all the ingredients to make a martini or Manhattan,” he said.
The bill passed unanimously in the House on March 13 and in the Senate on Tuesday and only needs the signature of Gov. Kate Brown.
Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with herbs, roots and bark.
A classic Manhattan contains rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and a maraschino cherry.
Martinis are a combination of gin and dry vermouth, usually garnished with an olive or a lemon twist.
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