No matter if you’re a cocktail beginner or grizzled home bar veteran, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth will take your cocktails to the next level. I stumbled across this spirit when researching the Martinez cocktail and it’s been the most impactful discovery I’ve made since. From the intense flavor to its long history, it has so many things going for it that you simply shouldn’t pass it up.
But let’s take a step back to start at the beginning…
What is Vermouth?
Vermouth is an aromatized wine, which means that it’s one or more wines combined with alcohol and preparations that include herbs, spices and/or flavorings. Typically the two basic types of Vermouth are sweet and dry; sweet Vermouth is red while dry Vermouth is white.
Carpano Antica is a sweet vermouth and features a deep red color.
Carpano (Re)Invented Sweet Vermouth
Although the ancient Romans were known to have created sweet vermouth it was Antonio Benedetto Carpano who recreated this recipe in 1786. Initially used as a medicinal liquor, it quickly became popular as an aperitif throughout Italy and France. Afterward it soon became a fashionable cocktail ingredient in the late 19th century.
Carpano Antica sweet vermouth uses this original formulation, which provides a great story and an interesting touchstone to history – in my opinion.
What Does Carpano Antica Taste Like?
I have a tough time describing flavor because it can be so subjective, but to start Carpano Antica is rich and complex. Possessing a bitter note, it offers a variety of flavors that enhance just about any cocktail. I taste vanilla, clove, orange peel and caramel, but others report flavors that include figs and vanilla too.
Overall I’ve fallen in love with this spirit and can’t recommend it highly enough.
If you’re just getting your feet wet with less complex drinks like the Gin & Tonic or the Cuba Libre this advice may not be all that valuable (yet), but if you’re exploring drinks like the Manhattan, the Negroni or the Vieux Carré then you can take it to the bank.
So if you want an instant upgrade, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth will fit the bill nicely. Granted it’s not cheap ($32/1L), but your cocktails will thank you.