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Carpano Antica Formula

Carpano Antica


By Robert Plotkin

It must have been one heck of a party. As the story goes, during the presidential race of 1876, New York socialite and heiress Jenny Jerome hosted a campaign function for candidate Samuel Tilden at the famed Manhattan Club. Miss Jerome, soon to become Lady Randolph Churchill and mother of Winston, requested a special cocktail be created for the event.
What the staff devised consisted of rye whiskey, Angostura bitters and Italian (sweet) vermouth. Like a spark to tinder, the cocktail swept through New York society. The drink that we now know as the Manhattan literally became the toast of the town. It's said that financial mogul J. P. Morgan drank the cocktail every day at the end of trading on Wall Street. Needless to say, the drink they dubbed the Manhattan Cocktail made a lasting impression.

The secret to the Manhattan's enduring popularity can be attributed to the natural affinity between spirits and vermouth, the first of which ever created was Carpano Antica Formula.

In 1786, Antonio Benedetto Carpano invented the famous vermouth in the heart of Turin, Italy. Today it is handcrafted at the Fratelli Branca Distillerie in Milan according to the original secret recipe. The process begins with a base of red wine into which a proprietary mix of aromatic herbs, roots and bark are added. The botanicals include cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peels, cardamom, marjoram, chamomile, coriander, juniper, hyssop, ginger and vanilla. After blending, the vermouth is rested for 2 months to ensure that all of the various flavors have fully integrated. It is then bottled at 16.5% alcohol by volume (33 proof).

There is something quite compelling about sipping the very first vermouth ever created. The fact is there are none better. Carpano Antica Formula is an amazing fortified wine graced with a deep scarlet hue, a silky medium-weight body and a generous bouquet saturated with the aromas of vanilla bean, spice, dried herbs, orange zest and a delightful array of fruit. As captivating as the bouquet is, the palate is even more so. It features the flavors of red wine, dark chocolate, baking spices, almonds and citrus. The lingering finish is both semisweet and slightly bitter. It is an experience not to be missed.

That Carpano Antica is marvelous in a Manhattan is a given. It wafting aromatics and brilliant flavors are a perfect match with whiskeys of every type and country of origin.

Salute! Cin cin!