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Mar 11, 2010 07:22 AM

Carpano Antico Vermouth and Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec

So a friend recently gave me one bottle each of Carpano Antico Vermouth and Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec for my ongoing cocktail making adventures.

First the Luxardo Triplum: Lately I have been using Cointreau in my margaritas and Rum drinks, but have never felt it was a spot on match. A tad too sweet, and not enough real orange punch. In the past I have used Gran Marnier, but feel that it's underlying brandy flavor is also not quite right, particularly with rum drinks.

Quite simply the Luxardo Triplum is the best orange cocktail accompaniment I have ever had. Complex zingy assertive orange flavor, just the right amount of sweetness, really hard to beat. Just delicious.

On the Vermouth front I have lately been using Noilly Prat vermouth in my Manhattans. Sometimes I will use Martini and Rossi, but that really is a bit flabby. The Noilly Prat goes particularly nicely with Old Overholt or George Dickel. Nice delicate Balance.

I took a sip of the Carpano Antico neat and thought, wow, this is a delicious vermouth. But it did have a lot of herbal spicy zing to it. For the sake of a Manhattan, to my palate it tasted as though the bitters were already there.

I would happily drink a glass of this neat out of the fridge, or perhaps with an ice cube or two.

I made my basic Manhattan with Jim Beam just because it is an old standard for me. Even though I did 4 or 5 to one bourbon to vermouth and a bit of angostura, all I could taste was the vermouth. Totally overwhelmed the cocktail.

For those who like a Manhattan with Rittenhouse 100 or the like I imagine this would fit the bill. But to me it would make an undrinkably punchy, strong, unsubtle libation. I think my Carpano Antico will be drunk neat. Good stuff, but in my book, it's not even a Manhattan any more with this stuff in it.

A couple of local liquor stores have some interesting looking Italian vermouth brands that I have never heard of in the $10-15 range that look like they are imported by local MA distributors. Might have to try one of those to see if they are a little more interesting but not quite the monster that CA is.

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  1. Great review. Thanks. I like Carpano in a Manhattan but I usually add only have the required amount or, as you note, the Carpano takes over.

    I will definitely be running out to get some Luxardo Triple Sec.

    1. One additional note: the CA vermouth actually reminded me quite a bit of some traditional vermouths I had at an old tapas bar in Barcelona. The vermouth actually was a "House" vermouth. Dark, sweet and spicey and served slightly chilled. Great accompaniment to strong foods like baby squid in their own ink, white anchovies (in fact the first time I had them was at this place) and chorizo stewed in it's own juices, yum.

      1. Call me crazy, but I use the stuff in old-style proportions (2:1 whisky:vermouth for Manhattans). And none of the stuff I use is as strong (alcohol-wise, at least) as the Rittenhouse - mostly around 47%. Stuff I've used recently is the High West Rendezvous, baby Sazerac, Russell's Reserve, Old Overholt, Tuthilltown, Pappy 13 ryes, and Woodford Reserve, Elijah Craig, Old Weller bourbons

        For a Martinez, I'll usually use the old style proportions - 2 parts vermouth and 1 of gin. Sweet by modern standards, but I use Boker's bitters, plus the Carpano has some bitterness of its own.

        I've been experimenting with using less Carpano or more whisky recently, but overall, I still tend to use ~ 2:1.

        1 Reply
        1. re: will47

          With that much CA I'd be curious if you could blind-taste the difference between any of the whiskeys. My guess is probably not.

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Wow that is an awesome article! I really like the perfumy quality of the Luxardo Triplum. Made a margarita with it last night that turned out excellent. I find Cointreau just dissappears in my margaritas unless I add a lot, and then it dominates and tastes syrupy.

            The Luxardo product added some really nice orange zing and perfumey notes.

            1. re: EvergreenDan

              That Oh Gosh guy has kind of come out of nowhere, and is generally really good.

              1. re: EvergreenDan

                Absolutely agree with the Oh Gosh rating of Creole Shrubb as one of the best orange flavored spirits. Tough to find, but worth seeking out. Really delicious, with very different flavor notes than other orange based spirits.

                1. re: BHAppeal

                  I had a remarkable Creole Shrub made on the Island of Marie Galant in the French Caribbean that totally blew me away.

              2. I dunno, StriperGuy. I used Wild Turkey 101 Rye and Capano Antica 2:1, and thought it was nicely balanced. I could taste the best of both ingredients. I know you like dryer presentations, and certainly at 2:1 the CA adds a lot of flavor and sugar. Maybe 3:1? I thought it was a fabulous drink. No bitters or cherry needed.

                6 Replies
                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    No bitters needed? How about bitters just for the sake of bitters? Extra bitters, with a few additional dashes just in case? Did I mention bitters? It makes everything bitter... errm, better.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      Funny thing is I LOVE bitters. I sip my own, insanely bitter housemade cocktail bitters with an ice cube or two straight. Just a whiff scares off most people. These are cocktail bitters, not an Amaro style. I guess I just like my Manhattan a particular, subtle way...

                    2. re: EvergreenDan

                      I think of aromatic bitters as the pepper and spice for a cocktail. My point was that I found the Antica to be sufficiently interesting and complex as to not need additional bitters. The typical aromatic bitters for a Manhattan contains the same sorts of spice (and sometimes actually bitter) flavors as you have in the Antica. Whereas I agree that a conventional sweet vermouth cries out for some Angostura (or better, Fee WBA) bitters, I didn't find that with the Antica.

                      Maybe I should make two and compare them. Happy thoughts....

                      I find that if I already have a lot of complex spicy flavors going on (e.g. Cynar or Averna or Punt e Mes), that the added flavors in, say, Angostura or WBA aren't needed. OTOH, other drinks are all about the bitters (e.g. an Old Fashioned or even a regular Manhattan). And other types of bitters solve other problems (e.g. I use Angostura Orange a lot when I want to pump up the orange and bitter flavors, without adding sugar or diluting the drink). Same for Lemon and Grapefruit.

                      But, yes, I love bitters. I have about 8 of them so far in my little collection. And I'm amassing bitter ingredients (Amari of various types, mostly).

                      Also, each of these bitters is fantastic in a tall glass of plain seltzer, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon. Angostura is my go-to mocktail (ignoring the alcohol in the few dashes). Even my 9 year old likes Lemon bitters with seltzer. Proud moment.

                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        Well said regarding CA and the need for bitters.

                      2. re: EvergreenDan

                        I have to agree with EvergreenDan. I recently purchased my first bottle of CA and settled on a roughly 2:1 ration (perhaps a 2.25:1). There's no doubt the CA makes its presence known more than any other vermouth I've tried, but I didn't think it was to the detriment of the cocktail. Oh, and while I used bitters, I did find that much less were needed.