Carpano Antica Formula red vermouth has been a treasured bar staple, if not a cult item, since the modern cocktail revival. Enthusiasts who have traveled to Italy’s Piedmont may know of the existence of the other Carpano vermouths, but only in the last year have they become available in the US. While the vermouth market has exploded in recent years with new products, to taste this Carpano is to sample a vermouth without an agenda or a hook. It simply and straightforwardly provides the function of a dry aromatized, fortified wine. And while it may lack the complexities or unusual flavorings of some of the new vermouths, it does the job most of us ask of our white vermouths better than any of them: It mixes beautifully. That is, it makes the best martini of any vermouth I’ve tasted. Because it integrates so well, it can be used in greater proportion than other vermouths (I like 3 ounces of gin to a half-ounce of Carpano Dry). Incidentally, don’t confuse it with Carpano Bianco, which is sweeter.
Reviewed in W&S Winter 2016.