So a friend recently gave me one bottle each of Carpano Antico Vermouth and Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec for my ongoing cocktail making adventures.
First the Luxardo Triplum: Lately I have been using Cointreau in my margaritas and Rum drinks, but have never felt it was a spot on match. A tad too sweet, and not enough real orange punch. In the past I have used Gran Marnier, but feel that it's underlying brandy flavor is also not quite right, particularly with rum drinks.
Quite simply the Luxardo Triplum is the best orange cocktail accompaniment I have ever had. Complex zingy assertive orange flavor, just the right amount of sweetness, really hard to beat. Just delicious.
On the Vermouth front I have lately been using Noilly Prat vermouth in my Manhattans. Sometimes I will use Martini and Rossi, but that really is a bit flabby. The Noilly Prat goes particularly nicely with Old Overholt or George Dickel. Nice delicate Balance.
I took a sip of the Carpano Antico neat and thought, wow, this is a delicious vermouth. But it did have a lot of herbal spicy zing to it. For the sake of a Manhattan, to my palate it tasted as though the bitters were already there.
I would happily drink a glass of this neat out of the fridge, or perhaps with an ice cube or two.
I made my basic Manhattan with Jim Beam just because it is an old standard for me. Even though I did 4 or 5 to one bourbon to vermouth and a bit of angostura, all I could taste was the vermouth. Totally overwhelmed the cocktail.
For those who like a Manhattan with Rittenhouse 100 or the like I imagine this would fit the bill. But to me it would make an undrinkably punchy, strong, unsubtle libation. I think my Carpano Antico will be drunk neat. Good stuff, but in my book, it's not even a Manhattan any more with this stuff in it.
A couple of local liquor stores have some interesting looking Italian vermouth brands that I have never heard of in the $10-15 range that look like they are imported by local MA distributors. Might have to try one of those to see if they are a little more interesting but not quite the monster that CA is.