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Review: Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth

Carpano Antica Formula VermouthCarpano’s Antica Formula vermouth is the first lady of aromatic wines. In a world where most vermouth runs under $10 for a bottle and is tossed out during clean-up from last night’s party, the $30 or more you’ll pay for a liter of Antica Formula indicates at least someone thinks pretty highly of it.

The heritage of this spirit dates back to the late 1700s, when vermouth was invented by Antonio Benedetto Carpano — inspired by German aromatic wines. Antica Formula doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance to today’s German wines, but it doesn’t take long to see why it has such a loyal following.

On its own, Antica Formula offers a complex nose of vanilla, raisins, prunes, licorice, root beer, and citrus peel. The body is initially sweet, then slowly turns more and more bitter — almost to the level of an amaro — as it fades in the glass. In cocktails, this can create a dazzling complexity and, depending on how much you use, an intensity of flavor. Manhattans are gorgeous with it, the vanilla-scented vermouth a wonderful foil for whiskey, and Negronis take on another dimension. Rather than disappearing into a cocktail, the wine coaxes out notes of cocoa powder, dark fruits, and the spices of Christmas.

That said, drink it year-round.

33 proof.

A / $32 (1 liter) / specialitybrands.com [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

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Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth

$32
9.5

Rating

9.5/10
Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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2 Comments

  1. DOUGLAS SERY May 17, 2020

    I made a Manhattan last night using this vermouth (small bottle, as vermouth tends not be in high demand here in Sweden), Four Roses Small Batch, a dash of Angostura and a light peel of clementine. While the Four Roses is quite nice, I don’t think that there’s any question that the Carpano made the drink. Absolutely delicious and perfect for a rainy Scandinavian evening.

    Reply
  2. Ed Uhrich December 4, 2020

    Oh MAN!
    All my Sweet vermouth cocktails became off the charts with this vermouth…
    In my hand right now…an Employees Only Manhattan…
    The way I mix… 1 1/2 oz a nice rye
    1 1/2 oz Antica
    1/2 oz Grand Marnier
    3 squirts angostura
    1 squirt Pershards
    Stir with ice, pour in a chilled glass with a large ice
    Render Generously with a lemon peel and drop in
    As garnish. OMG!

    If you’re a bartender… you’ll be a favorite using this
    If you’re a bar owner… this will get your bar attention
    Use this as your standard and you’ll be a cocktail rockstar…
    As you can tell… I highly recommend this…
    Enjoy my friends..

    Reply

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