Cinzano is so ingrained in drinking culture, it’s almost taken for granted. I was first made aware of it by one of those famous mirrors that adorned so many households in the 1970s, as well a penchant for some of my family serving Cinzano and lemonade, which seemed faintly glamorous at the time.
But vermouth is cool again, and people have realised that that streak of herbal or bittersweet flavour works wonderfully in aperitif drinks and cocktails, which means that a bottle of vermouth is a handy weapon in your drinks armoury.
Cinzano 1757 references the year in which brothers Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano opened their first shop in Turin, and is a richer, more intense version of the regular Cinzano Rosso. But, if you’re a vermouth virgin, what do you actually do with it?
Well, the beauty of vermouth is its versatility. It works served neat over ice, or served long paired with mixer. A splash of vermouth will transform a gin and tonic, adding depth of flavour, and of course there are several cocktails where it is essential, such as the Negroni and the Manhattan.
This is what we thought:
Nose: Bitter cherry, sweet red-berry fruit, plus dates and damsons.
Palate: Bittersweet – nice balance. Dates, cherries, rich texture. Subtle herbiness, with plenty of sweet spice.
Finish: The bittersweet cherries linger. Not too sweet, which is ideal, but still makes a statement with its rich fruit.
Comment: A big and bold vermouth, but not over the top. Works well mixed, and the well-judged sweetness is spot on.
If you don’t have a bottle of vermouth at home, then this is a fine place to start. Your cocktails and long drinks will thank you for it.