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Antica Formula Carpano vermouth, 16.5% ABV

Star rating: 5/5

The recipe and processes that go into making Antica Formula are top secret. To this day, only three people know the hidden formula for the final product, distillery president Niccolo Branca being one of the trusted few.

What we do know is that not only is the recipe the same, but also the methods of distillation have been passed down throughout the centuries – though these methods have been modernised to an extent.

The base wine for the vermouth is made up of white wines of Italian grapes from the Romagna, Puglia and Sicily regions, always processed within the day in order to maximise freshness.

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The formula side of things is where the real magic happens; Rome wasn’t built in a day and Antica isn’t distilled in a week – it takes months actually.

Dedication often sets drinks apart and that is definitely the case with this drink. The variety of processes, hot infusions and cold extractions are carried out with precision. This is then followed by several months of ‘refinement’ in order to achieve the signature flavour profile.

Among the top secret ingredients are saffron and vanilla. The saffron is imported from Iran and vanilla beans are flown in from as far afield as Madagascar, the use of vanilla aiding digestion as well as adding a creaminess and roundness to the vermouth.

The finished product has aromas of vanilla, cherries and dark chocolate atop charred orange peel and cloves.

A first sip floods your mouth with deep chocolate and orange flavours punctuated with a peppering of sweet and punchy spices, finishing with spice and citrus.

The perfect pour

The predicament that comes with such a formidable vermouth is that while using it in a negroni or a Manhattan will make you an inimitable cocktail, it feels almost wasteful to cordialise this drink.

We believe that the best way to enjoy this, initially at least, is to grab yourself a short glass, a few ice cubes and pour over. After soaking up the Antica Formula in all its glory, go ahead and make it last in a negroni.

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This review was last updated in August 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at

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