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Cocchi vermouth di Torino, 16% ABV
Torino, Italy, can be considered the epicentre of vermouth, with the commercialisation of the aperitif beginning in the region in the late 18th-century.
Cocchi Storico couldn’t be from anywhere else. It is full of thoroughly traditional characteristics and ingredients, such as the use of wormwood and deep amber colouring from the use of brown sugar.
The colouring of vermouth in this way began as a point of differentiation for nifty distillers in a fiercely competitive and emerging market. This artificial darkening of the liquid led to the labelling of vermouths by colour, with Torino becoming known for their ‘rosso’ products.
The Cocchi Storico still follows a family recipe that is more than a century old. In the 100 or so years since the perfect balance of herbs, spices and fruits was struck, this vermouth has enjoyed the status of being the go-to base for the perfect Manhattan cocktail.
The reason this Torino tipple achieved such notoriety is its mastering of the bittersweet. The complex recipe is packed full of interesting herbs and perfumes, each gently nudging the flavour profile toward the ideal bittersweet equilibrium.
Rhubarb finds itself alongside ingredients as leftfield as myrrh and sandalwood. On the nose this vermouth is full of caramel, orange and vanilla with softly developing menthol notes.
These aromas are carried through to the palate but dominated by deep red berries which are echoed by an earthiness that invites you to take another sip.
The overall experience is incredibly polished, the fruit notes are sharp but are smoothed out by the earthy bitterness and menthol notes. A freshness encompasses the drink, in no small part owing to the use of rosemary. A perfectly rounded vermouth.
The perfect pour
Although this vermouth has become synonymous with the Manhattan, we think you should try it in a rather underrated cocktail, the Sbagliato, a variation of the better known negroni. The name roughly translates to ‘mistaken’ and legend has it that the Sbagliato was the result of a bartender that momentarily couldn’t tell his gin from his sparkling wine.
To make it, pour 25ml each of Campari and Cocchi Storico vermouth di Torino into a wine glass over ice, top up with sparkling wine and garnish with an orange wedge. The Campari serves well to emphasise the citrus in the vermouth while the sparkling wine helps keep the drink refreshing and not overly sweet.
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