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Feb 19, 2009 12:46 PM

Sweet Vermouth Favs

Many CocktailHounds rave about Carpano Antica Formula vermouth.I bought a bottle recently and have about 1/2 left in my fridge.I think it's pretty good,but I mainly get a vanilla taste from it.My main drink this winter has been a Manhattan and I think I like it just as much with Martini & Rossi as I do the Carpano.Heresy I know,but it has been a bit disappointing.I LOVE Vya vermouth.Spicey,sweet,just a lot going on to me.
Another favorite drink is a Negroni offshoot swapping out the Campari and subbing in Aperol.Delicious,but again the Carpano doesn't seem to step it up from
some other brands.Am I missing something? Do you have any favorite drinks where the addition of Carpano really stands out?Thanks.

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  1. Carpano Antica Formula and Vya for me I'm afraid.
    Dubonnet in some situations, though it's not really a sweet vermouth.

    1. I've been subbing Punt E Mes with good results

      1 Reply
      1. re: Icantread

        Thanks.I have tried Punt e Mes and liked it.It's somewhat bitter,but not too much so for me.I tend to prefer sweet/sour,spicey to bitter which is why I'm not much of a Campari fan but really like Aperol.I probably should have labeled my post,"Carpano Antica.Yeah or nay?".Whenever I see it mentioned it always seems to be with such glowing praise and I wasn't overly impressed with it.

      2. Carpano Antica Formula is great but seems better used all by itself or with more restrained cocktails. I love the stuff. Love the Vya. A little more bold so it seems to stand up to 100 proof rye and Campari, etc. Punt e Mes in cocktails is a close second to the Vya and $10 cheaper last I checked. Otherwise, Noilly Prat is one of the only cheaper ones I'll get.

        Have you tried playing with Dubonnet, Pimms, Lillet Rouge or any other "aromatized" reds? Some pretty good ones that could stand in for "vermouth" or to add a twist. They're pretty much red vermouth...

        4 Replies
        1. re: mrgrotto

          Thanks I'll have it try it by itself.In warmer weather I like sweet vermouth and Lillet Blanc so that might work also.I did a tasting last year and liked Vya,followed by Noilly Prat,M&R and then Boisserie.I haven't tried the Carpano on it's own yet.

          1. re: mrgrotto

            A small quibble here - Pimm's is not an aromatized wine like the others you've listed. Pimm's No. 1. cup is a gin-based liqueur with fruit flavors. Probably closer to a sloe gin than a vermouth. Supposedly Pimm's makes other "fruit cups" manufactured with other base spirits - a friend from Australia had a bottle of Pimm's No. 3 at his place once - but these discontinued and/or not imported.

            I know that Lillet and Dubonnet differ from Vermouths in that they contain quinine, and are classified as "Quinquinas." I don't know how they differ with regard to the other herbal ingredients or production methods.

            1. re: craigasaurus

              This is useful information, though I beleve you can safely bundle Dubonnet, Lillet, and vermouths under the broader "aromatized wine" category.

              One thing I learned digging into Dolin vermouth is that their appellation d’origine contrôlée in part depends on their infusing their botanicals directly in the wine, rather than in another medium and adding that infusion to the wine later, which is how most vermouth manufacturers do it. (Not sure what the bulk producers use to infuse, if it's water or grape neutral spirits or what).

              1. re: craigasaurus

                True re: Pimm's! Totally typed before I thought. That being said, trading vermouth out for Pimm's is definitely worth playing with.

                And also true regarding Lillet and Dubonnet, but I'm not against putting them in the same general category.

            2. I agree with you 100%. After a lot of buildup I finally got my hands on some Carpano Antica and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Vya, in my opinion, is far more interesting, more complex, and stands on its own better in a drink. And agreed with others who have mentioned Punt e Mes in this thread; great stuff, especially in a Negroni or my favorite drink when I'm in the mood for something a bit lighter: Punt e Mes half-and-half with Lillet Blanc, a couple of dashes of orange bitters, and a lemon twist.

              1. If you love Vya Sweet (as I do), look into Dolin Rouge, an artisanal French vermouth that offers similar complexity at about half the price. Great stuff.

                3 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Thanks for the feedback.Punt e Mes and Lillet sounds like a good combo.I will have to give it a try.I usually squeeze the juice of half of a lime into my Negroni offshoot.For me a little citrus improves a lot of drinks.The Dolin sounds interesting.I would like to try the rouge and the dry.Anyone know somewhere in NYC that carries either one?

                  1. re: foodnwine

                    Astor wines carries Dolin and Carpano Antico. I picked up some Dolin @ Crossroads (14th and 6th).

                    1. re: craigasaurus

                      Thanks.I'll look for Dolin next time I'm in Astor.I haven't been there for several months,but they never had a very good vermouth selection.Which is surprising since they have the best spirits selection that I've seen in NYC.