K&L 2009 Spirit of the Year: Carpano Antica

Coming up in our January newsletter all the company buyers list their wines of the year and their predictions for 2010.  Since we are spirits buyers, David OG in our LA Store and I have named Carpano Antica the 2009 Spirit of the Year because both of us cannot get enough of it.  Embarrassingly, I got on the CA train a bit late.  I only first tasted it in November even though I had known of its greatness for over a year.  I'd had it in a cocktail numerous times but had never tasted it straight up on the rocks.  It is now just about the exclusive beverage of my 2 person household.  What is Carpano Antica and why haven't you had it?  Read on, friends.

Carpano Antica is an Italian sweet vermouth that seriously puts others to shame.  I was so lovestruck with the Dolin vermouths that I was too blind to see it, but I am now a reformed CA convert.  As David OG states in the upcoming newsletter, "I had never wanted to drink vermouth straight up until I found the Antica."  Now neither of us wants to drink it any other way.  The complexity of the palate is really utterly amazing.  There is a sweetness that intermingles with baking spices, cloves, and floral components before finishing with a profound richness.  The cocktail enthusiasts will say to try it in a Manhattan in order to experience its transformative effects on whiskey, but there is one drink where it does shine a bit brighter: The Negroni.  One part Old Tom gin, one part Campari, one part CA and I'm on the couch watching HDTV in complete and utter bliss. 

Carpano Antica is made by the Italian distillety Fratelli Branca in Milan, who also produce Fernet Branca (which I recently read is consumed more in SF than any other part of the world) and Punt E Mes.  Bow down and hail the new king of vermouth.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll