Cocktail lovers stateside are pretty familiar with Carpano Antica Formula—so much so that a writer for Food & Wine joked that "If you add Carpano Antica to whiskey, people will think you are a good bartender." But while we've enjoyed our share of drinks enriched with the Antica, Europe got early access to the Bianco version, which finally launched this fall in the US.
Made with a white wine base (using Trebbiano, Chardonnay and Cortese grapes), Carpano Bianco is fortified and then flavored with ginger, cloves, chamomile, hyssop, and what they're calling 'artemisia' (The artemisia genus includes several hundred species including wormwood, sagebrush, and mugwort). It's selling for around $22 for a 750 mL bottle.
We gave it a try, and immediately noticed its super-floral aroma—think candied violet, candied ginger, and wafting perfume...with a hint of hair salon. It has nice orangey-lemony flavors (and floral grapey notes that might remind you of muscat), and a little lingering bitterness that's noticeable when the floral notes recede. On its own, we weren't convinced.
But choose the right gin to mix it with, and you might have a winner. While Hendrick's was way too soft and floral, making the combination all sweet perfume and Lemon Pledge, Broker's London Dry Gin worked a bit better. The juniper flavors dominated a bit, but the Carpano Bianco adds good body to the mix. The best of the mixing options wasn't the soft-floral Hendrick's or the more traditional Broker's: it was Reisetbauer Blue Gin from Austria, which blended seamlessly with the Bianco Vermouth, for a smooth, creamy, plush result.
Have you tried Carpano Bianco? Discover any good cocktail combinations that include it?