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A 120-year-old recipe for vermouth makes a comeback

September 6, 2011 | 12:41 pm

Cocchi edit (1 of 1) I just had the best Negroni of my life. It follows the classic recipe: one part Campari, one part gin and one part vermouth. The gin is Hendrick’s. But what makes the big difference is the vermouth! It’s Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino from Corti Brothers in Sacramento.

I know Cocchi, of course, as a purveyor of vermouth. But for their 120th anniversary this year, the Piedmontese firm resumed production of founder Giulio Cocchi’s original recipe from 1891. I read about it in the summer Corti Brothers newsletter.

Even better, you can view Darrell Corti’s first tasting of the Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino in March on a trip to Italy at the Bava Winery [link in Italian] on Corti TV. He gives a bit of history, too, recalling visits to his grandparents' friend as a child, when the custom was to offer a glass of vermouth — not a glass of wine. That I didn’t know.

But in fact, I have snuck a glass of the Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino when I just wanted a small taste of something delicious without having to open a bottle of wine. The flavor of assorted barks, herbs and spices is infused seamlessly in the base Moscato wine. It isn’t syrupy like some vermouths, and strikes an exquisite balance between sweet and bitter. 

In the newsletter, Corti also gives a recipe for the Negroni “sbagliato” or "incorrect" Negroni. “In a shaker add equal parts Campari and Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino. Shake together with ice. Strain into a glass and top with a dry Italian spumante or Prosecco. Serve.” I like that one as a lighter alternative, but not nearly as much as the original Negroni recipe.

I like it so much, in fact, that I’m already ready to reorder another bottle. 

Corti Brothers, 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA; (916) 736-3800; (800) 509-FOOD; www.cortibros.biz. Cocchi Storico Vermouth Di Torino, $18.99.

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-- S. Irene Virbila

Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photo: Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino. Credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times

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