MODERN LIVING: No Olive, Please

Vermouth is a tawny mixture of herbs and fermented grape juice whose origins are as murky as Louisiana Snake Oil.* Ancient Romans gulped vermouth as a surefire aphrodisiac, while as late as 1720, Frenchmen celebrated it as a preventive against plague. Last week, John L. Tribuno, head of Vermouth Industries of America, biggest domestic producer, announced that the ancient elixir was breaking all records in the U.S., but for a 20th century reason: the rise of the dry martini as the great U.S. national cocktail.

With sales of U.S.-produced vermouth running at some 4,000,000 gals, annually, about 10% better than...

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