Carpano is a producer of sweet vermouth owned by the Fratelli Branca company and founded in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, who worked in a wine shop in Turin. He took locally produced Muscat wine and flavored it further with herbs and spices and called his new creation vermouth, after the German wermut, meaning wormwood.
Though Carpano died in 1815, by the middle of the 19th century, his family has a bar in Turin where they served their vermouth. As the story goes, one day in 1870, a group of stockbrokers were at the bar discussing the day's trading. One of the stockbrokers wanted a glass of vermouth "corrected" with half that amount of cinchona bark syrup. He mistakenly called for a "Punt e Mes", which means a "point and a half", and a new style of vermouth was born.
Today, the Carpano company makes two brands of sweet vermouth: Punt e Mes and Antica Formula.
Punt e Mes is much more bitter than normal sweet vermouth. It is reddish brown and opaque, with a strong sweet cherry aroma and a touch of oxidative/sherry tone. It is fairly thick, and while there is some sweetness in the midpalate, this is firmly dry in a quinine way, as with Campari. Punt e Mes is bottled at 32 proof.
Antica Formula is something completely different. it comes in liters and more recently, half bottles, with a replica of Carpano's 1786 label on the front. Antica Forumla is considered the King of Sweet Vermouth. It is incredibly complex and dangerously delicious, and is an attempt to recreate Antonio Carpano's original vermouth.
Carpano is now owned by Distillerie Branca, makers of Fernet Branca and Branca Menta.
Some popular cocktails containing Carpano Antica Formula
- Van Buren — Citrus vodka, Amaro, Sweet vermouth, Chocolate bitters, Lemon peel
- Crimson Lake — Gin, Sweet vermouth, Bitters, Aperitivo
- Cactus Flower — Tequila, Sweet vermouth, Curaçao, Amargo de Chile, Lime juice
- Taylor Precedent — Sparkling white wine, Apple brandy, Sweet vermouth, Bitters, Cinnamon syrup, Brandied cherry
- Scarlet Knight — Gin, Ramazzotti, Sweet vermouth, Zucca, Eau de vie of Douglas Fir, Cranberry syrup, Lemon juice, Mint
- Crown Jewel Negroni — Gin, Sweet vermouth, Campari, Juniper-orange tincture
- Americano Perfecto — Pilsner, Campari, Sweet vermouth, Orange
- Mr. Hyde — Amaro Nardini, Cynar, Sweet vermouth, Bitters, Strawberry, Demerara syrup, Mint
- The Asian-ness — Japanese Whisky, Sweet vermouth, Campari, Cynar, Lemon bitters
- Earthbound Cocktail — Rye, Averna, Sweet vermouth, Ginger liqueur, Amaro Sibilla, Bitters