Saturday, August 27, 2011

Exhibit #73: Carpano Noctem!

Tonight our focus is on drinks that prominently feature vermouth, specifically the Italian variety. We've brought in a bottle of Carpano Antica - the boldest and most aromatic vermouth I've yet to taste. Created in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, he is credited by many as the inventor of the apertif, and this particular bottling adheres to Antonio's original recipe. As such, it is a natural fit for our historical booze work here.
The name 'vermouth' is derived from the German 'Wermut' (wormwood), which is a common ingredient in many distillations. Other ingredients include, but are by no means limited to, clove, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, marjorm, chamomile, coriander, juniper, hyssop, and ginger. Vermouth first began being exported to the US in the mid 19th century, and by the end of that century had made inroads into cocktails - first with the Manhattan in the 1880s, then the Martini not long afterwards, and a cornucopia of cocktails after that.

Carpano Antica $6.50
For those who would like to taste the vermouth in its unadulterated state, a nice pour on the rocks with a lemon twist.

You-Call-It Manhattan or Rob Roy w/Carpano - whiskey price + $3
Try some Carpano in the drinks that started the late-century vermouth craze. Given its bold and savory profile, we suggest a more bracing whiskey to stand up to it. Bulleit rye (or bourbon), Laphroaig, and even our rail whiskey (Mark Twain). Any whiskey is fair game - your choice.

Fancy Vermouth Cocktail $7
Let's begin at the beginning. This one dates circa 1860 via Jerry Thomas - Carpano Antica, Luxardo maraschino, Angostura bitters, on the rocks. It's the maraschino that makes it "fancy" - omit that and you have a regular Vermouth Cocktail, the first on record to use the apertif.

Martinez Cocktail $8
If whiskey and vermouth made a wonderful drink, what if one used gin? Thus the proto-Martini was born. 2 parts Carpano to 1 part Old Tom gin, a little maraschino and Angostura, up. Yes, it is rather sweet - but not without plenty of charm.

Duplex Cocktail $8
Equal parts dry and sweet vermouths, with 2 dashes of orange bitters, up. A swell nightcap.

Coronation Cocktail $7
Equal parts applejack, dry and sweet vermouths, with a dash of apricot liqueur, up.

Duchess Cocktail $9
Equal parts absinthe, dry and sweet vermouths, orange bitters, up. There are two other nearly identical old cocktails which differ mostly in proportion - the Creole and the Crook. Amusingly, one could call a Duchess a Perfect Crook...

Emerson Cocktail $7
Equal parts Old Tom gin, Carpano, and lime juice, along with a bit of maraschino, up. The most approachable cocktail on this list for those who are wary of vermouth.

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