Liquor Cabinet

Issue No. 72 —

Carpano Antica

If you haven’t tried Carpano Antica yet, please do so. And if you haven’t tried it on its own you have to. Yes, I just told you to sip on a glass of vermouth. Trust me. There’s nothing quite like it. You can definitely drink this over ice (larger cubes) like an aperitif.

This Italian sweet vermouth was created by Antonio Benedetto Carpano. Antonio is reported to be the godfather of vermouth and Carpano Antica is the original recipe that dates back to 1786. Even The label is an enduring replica of the 1786 original. Antonio gave birth to the title vermouth, named after the German wine using wormwood (Wermut). Vermouth was initially created to flavor wines of poor quality, which lead to its reputed medicinal values of curing digestive ailments. This sweet vermouth is an aromatized Italian style wine product. The original recipe was created from white wine with the infusion of over 30 varieties of herbs and spices. With that said let’s get to my tasting notes. Good luck, right?

You’ll notice upon pouring your first glass the coloring is of caramelized sugar, a brownish orange. It’s rather thick. If you swirl it around your glass it’ll leave long legs. The nose bursts with vanilla, clove, figs, orange peel and possibly a touch of toffee. It’s a very complex whiff, as there are other indescribables. The sip test reveals orange peel and dried fruit right up front. The mid-palette is bitter, probably from the wormwood and orange peel (almost like a tonic). Finally, it leaves you with a fantastically clean finish of toffee, vanilla and caramel. It’s a very intense and well rounded experience and one that everyone should experience for themselves.

This is the best vermouth one can buy. You’re definitely going to want to vacuum seal and refrigerate your bottle. I know I just told you this is a sweet vermouth, but be careful substituting this in recipes that call for sweet vermouth. It’s not that sweet. It’s bitter. I’d use this in a Manhattan, Bobby Burns or a Vieux Carré. All this talk has me craving a cocktail with Carpano Antica. I think I’ll make myself a Manhattan right now. Drink like kings, my friends. Pinky out.

Bottles around $30.

13 Notes on Carpano Antica

  1. Hear! Hear!

    I love it in the Vieux Carre, and have also been known to take .5 ounce or so in a cordial glass. I’ve never vacuum sealed and refrigerated though, as a bottle will only last 3–4 months. Hmmm.…I guess that’s just long enough for it to change a bit on my normal shelf.


    • It can definitely stand on its own. I enjoy sipping it myself. I’m a big fan of the Vieux Carre and Carpano Antica bumps it up a level. I’m thinking I might try and barrel age a batch of Vieux Carre’s with Carpano.

  2. This is truly the KING of sweet vermouth’s, it’s OUTSTANDING by itself, yet also brings cocktails requiring swt. vermouth to a level you never thought possible…I make what I call a “Upper Manhattan” with Maker’s Mark (I have tried almost every brand of Bourbon, Maker’s wins hands down), Carpano Antica Vermouth, Peychaud’s and Fee Bros. Cherry Bitters, and a wee little splash of cherry juice…AMAZING!!!

  3. Your description of Carpano Antica was incredibly enticing so I put it on a little wishlist of liqueurs I wanted to buy for myself. I was worried that a one liter bottle would be way too much to ever consume before it went bad. But since having my first glass tonight, and discovering how deliciously sweet and bitter it is, I have no doubt that it will be gone in no time! Thanks for the great recommendation! Your website is fantastic!

  4. The Carpano is much more complex and rich in flavor. It is sweet without being cloying.

    Before this, I always felt that Noilly Pratt was the best. Carpano is now the king.

  5. I was in New Orleans last month,and had the best Manhattan of my life. It was made with Rittenhouse Rye,Carpano antica,Luxor do cherry, and bitters. A drink made in haven!!!

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