The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 136

november 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  29 and Boissiere. The Italian vermouths were usually dark red or brown, herbaceous and lightly sweet, but by this time, drier and lighter blanc versions arose out of the French cities of Chambéry and Marseilles. Vermouth rode the wave of public adoration well into the early 1900s. Although it was most commonly consumed by itself, either chilled or over a few ice cubes, as cocktail culture grew in the years before World War I and Prohibition, vermouth became a popular ingredient in mixed drinks. The white French vermouths found their place in popular gin drinks, such as the Martini, while the Torino-inspired Italian red vermouths were more commonly used in whiskey cocktails such as the Manhattan. Now, in the 21st century, vermouth has found new respect among bartenders and mixologists. Rather than carry just one brand, a well-stocked bar will carry a few different varieties, so that the differences in flavors can be used in a purposeful way to enhance the other ingredients and create a more nuanced cocktail. Everything old really does become new again, even Antonio Benedetto Carpano's historic recipe, now available in a modern version as Carpano Antica Formula. Rich and full, with sweet flavors of vanilla, spice and dates, balanced by orange-rind bitterness and black tea tannin, Carpano Antica Formula works well as a stand-alone beverage served over ice, or as a primary ingredient in an upscale cocktail. Lucinda Sterling, Managing Partner and Bartender of Middle Branch bar in Midtown Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood, uses it in one of their most popular cocktails, "Alice of Mine," which pairs equal parts of Carpano Antica Formula and Kümmel, served chilled and garnished with a twist of lemon. It's her take on the "Alice, Mine" cocktail from the 1930s Savoy Cocktail Book, but with Sterling's deft hand, it is a new classic. "Antica has a fuller, richer flavor profile than most vermouths, with lovely nuances of spice and raisins and herbs," according to Sterling. "It has more of a 'presence' than other vermouths. It stands out." She adds, "We have a pretty sophisticated clientele here at Middle Branch, so it's really great to be able to hand-craft and custom-build our cocktails using such quality ingredients." Kirk Gaither, Vice President of Marketing for Infinium Spirits, which imports Carpano Antica Formula, mirrors Sterling's praise. He says that bartenders are "searching for authentic quality products. Carpano Antica Formula is 'The King of Vermouths.' It has the authenticity and heritage they are looking for, as well as the quality in the bottle. As great bartenders know, with a great base product, you can have a more balanced, full-flavored cocktail with fewer ingredients." Besides Carpano Antica Formula, two other Carpano products are available in the U.S. market. Punt e Mes, literally translated to "a point and a half," is a classic, less sweet offering that harkens back to the day when the bartender at the Carpano family tavern would add bitters to the original red vermouth. Guests would order "one point of sweet to a half point of bitter," for a drink lighter in style. Carpano Bianco is the newest member of the Carpano range of vermouths. Released just last year, it is the white vermouth alternative for drinkers who want the same depth and complexity in a white vermouth that they have come to expect from the Carpano red vermouth expressions. Finally, Carpano Dry—a vermouth with an interesting balsamic note and an aftertaste of citrus fruits and green apple—will be coming soon to the U.S. market. Imported by Infinium Spirits— Learn more about the range of Carpano vermouth at Lucinda Sterling, Managing Partner of Middle Branch in Midtown Manhatthan, is photographed at her home, where she's whipped up a Carpano Antica Formula cocktail. Lucinda Sterling's "Alice of Mine" cocktail is popular at Middle Branch in NYC.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - November 2014