Vermouth is the herbal, fortified wine that is so often a throwaway ingredient in cocktails. Sweet vermouth is used in Manhattans, Negronis and other classic cocktails. Now comes Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, bringing this wine to a whole new level. This sweet vermouth is super-aromatic, with wonderful notes of clove and mulled wine. I could just sniff it all day.
Used in the classic cocktails, it adds some real vigor and intensity. If your whiskey isn't up to snuff, this vermouth will dominate, so to get a real balanced Manhattan, you need to use a whiskey that will stand up to it (more on that in a few weeks).
After much cocktail experimentation, though, I think I've decided that the best way to serve Carpano Antica Formula is on the rocks. There may be no better appertif for a spring afternoon.
Carpano Antica is generally available at good liquor stores and goes for about $30 for a liter bottle.