Nebb and Flow
For all of vermouth's importance--both as a heavy lifter in cocktails and as a standalone aperitivo--most of it still comes from abroad.
But that's changing. Domestic producers are experimenting with the genre and turning out some delicious results. Case in point: Chinato d'Erbetti from Cana's Feast Winery in Carlton, Oregon.
This red vermouth is the first domestic offering made in the style of chinato, a historic Italian version, rarely seen stateside, that uses coveted Nebbiolo grapes (those of Barolo and Barbaresco fame) and boasts a spicy, bitter profile.
To recreate it, winemaker Patrick Taylor experimented with some 90 different aromatics to come up with his proprietary blend (which includes rhubarb, fennel and cinnamon), which he uses to flavor a wine base made from Washington State-grown Nebbiolo.
In a particularly delicious case of symbiosis, nearby Clear Creek Distillery uses the same grape skins left over from winemaking to create grappa, which Taylor, in turn, uses to fortify his chinato.
Bitter, spicy, earthy and slightly sweet, with warm notes of sarsaparilla and vanilla, this chinato is just as complex as a cocktail when sipped solo.
If you must mix, try it doubled up with Carpano Antica Formula, another fortified Italian favorite, in a Negroni variation dreamed up by Lydia Reissmueller of Portland's hidden cocktail bar Central.
Recipe adapted from Lydia Reissmueller of Central Bar
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce gin (such as Aviation or New Deal Gin #3)
1 ounce Chinato d'Erbetti
1 ounce sweet vermouth (such as Carpano Antica)
Citrus soda (Aranciata or Limonata), to taste
Half an orange wheel, for garnish
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the gin, Chinato and vermouth and stir. Top with citrus soda to taste and garnish with the orange wheel.
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