Atsby Vermouth



Atsby Vermouth is the brainchild of founder Adam Ford. After spending some time with Adam at the launch party I got a great sense of how passionate he was about Vermouth. Inevitably the question came up, “Why Vermouth?”. Well the story behind the why, is a great one, Adam tells it with such excitement that he convinces you to start thinking, “Why not Vermouth!”. During our conversation he told me about a backpacking trip that he took through Italy with his wife when he was younger with and after coming down from the mountains stopping in a little cafe to replenish his fluids. He came across this hidden gem. A secret that doesn’t usually escape the Italian countryside, Adam knew he had to bring this treasure back to the states to share with everyone. He came back with one goal “to create a revolutionary new style of American vermouth.”


Enter Atsby Vermouth, I know the name sounds familiar, when I say it or read it, I can’t help but think about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby”. Naturally I had to ask Adam about the name. As luck would have it the name has ties to New York, similarly as the book does (I’m not sure why it’s lucky but it makes sense in my head).

“The name “Atsby” is a loose acronym for the place where nightlife as we know it was born: the Assembly Theaters on Broadway in New York City.” – Atsby’s Website

Interesting names seem to follow this brand like ducklings follow their mother. Under the parent brand there are two different vermouths that have been created: Amberthorn & Armadillo Cake. Naturally, I’m inclined about the names of these two, and luckily their website does a great job about describing the naming reasons for both of these vermouths.

Siz & Adam Ford - Atsby Vermouth
Siz & Adam Ford – Atsby Vermouth


The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug. (Thank you Mr. Twain). – Atsby’s Website

So very true, there is something that makes this name pop out. I love the story and explanation behind it. First they started with the color of the liquid and decided it was more amber than anything. Although they describe this much more eloquently than I have. I tried to break it down for simple minds like mine. Then the site discusses where the thorn came from and I love this:

Like a thorn, existing to protect the most vulnerable of nature’s creations – delicate roses, soft berries – it embodies function and strength.

Bam, that tells you everything you need to know right there!

Amberthorn - Atsby Vermouth
Amberthorn – Atsby Vermouth

During the launch party not only did we get to enjoy 4 delicious cocktails we also got to sample each vermouth on its own. To say that Amberthorn is aromatic wouldn’t do it justice. When I put the glass up to my nose it felt as if I had just walked into an fresh herbal store and scents were floating down from the ceiling just waiting to plucked out of the air. I picked up some incredible aromas that I recognized, and even more that I had never sensed before. My senses jumped from the left to right trying to identify as many as I could. Anise, lavender, and basil were the most easily identifiable, others left as a mystery for the next time around.

After the aromas had danced around on my senses I took a quick sip. What I found was something that hit me up front as sweet, but finished with a slight dryness. I was blown away, this Amberthorn, truly was a rich and aromatic experience. I would highly suggest you try this just to experience all the botanicals that are contained in this bottle.

Armadillo Cake

While talking to Adam, we were interrupted by some lady who walked through and just struck up conversation. Turns out, she’s from a town about 30 minutes from where I grew up in Arkansas and she went to Belmont University in Nashville just like I did. She pretended I was her long lost brother, except about 30 years younger (kind of weird if you ask me). Once she left, Adam and I continued our conversation and since he recently discovered that I was from Arkansas he felt comfortable telling me the story about the name Armadillo Cake.

As the story goes told first hand by Adam, and on their website as well. On a trip through the Ozarks to go rock climbing, now I had to clarify this first. To me and my friends rock climbing involves being in a 4WD Jeep and climbing up the face of a rock wall. Redneck, I know. However, to Adam rock climbing meant using your appendages to scale a rock face and using a rope and all that jazz. My particular physique wasn’t build to climb rocks like that…

Back to the story. On a rock climbing trip in the Ozarks Adam and his buddies came across a dead armadillo on the side of the road. They decided the carcass should be used as a hood ornament. I think at this point everyone knows where this story is going to go. But I’ll tell it anyway because it’s awesome. Now, I’m not a physicist or anything, but I do know once you start driving the wind begins to roll over your car and tends to throw stuff back onto your windshield. Typically, if you mount a dead animal as a hood ornament, you’re gonna have some debris flying at the windshield sooner rather than later!

That’s exactly what happened. The next thing you know the windshield is covered in blood and guts and you can’t see anything. Adam was about to tell me the next big mistake they made… Turning on the wipers, this of course doesn’t do a damn thing except smear all the blood and guts across the entire windshield essentially caking on a  layer of Armadillo guts that you can’t see through. That my friends is how the name came about.

Armadillo Cake - Atsby Vermouth
Armadillo Cake – Atsby Vermouth

Now if that’s not enough to entice you to drink this vermouth, I don’t know what is! If there is one thing that Atsby does well, and trust me they do a lot of things well, it’s that they find a lot of unique botanicals to add to their vermouths. In fact, that’s what sets them apart from the others. Things like Japanese shitake, and nigella, I don’t even know what those are. In fact I believe I heard Adam say they use over 21 different kinds of botanicals for this recipe. Wow, talk about some flavor. Armadillo cake is the darker of the two vermouths and personally it was my favorite of the two. I think I’m a little biased based on the fact that the idea of the name came from my homeland. I love the smokey flavors that I got from this vermouth, being an avid cigar smoker I can see this pairing very well with a mild – medium body cigar. I think the smokey flavors make it very subtle on the tongue and allow you to pick up on all the aromas that hit your senses.

Grab a Bottle

I’m incredibly honored that I was allowed to attend this launch party and try these new vermouths because honestly I doubt I would have picked them up at my local liquor store. I as well as most Americans have these pre conceived notions that vermouths typically belong in martinis. Well, that isn’t true for Atsby vermouths. They can be the star of the show, or they can provide incredible background vocals. Either way it’s a great product and if you haven’t ever tried vermouth, I think now is as good of a time as any to go grab a bottle!

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