Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Drinking Expert

A last-minute leaving-work IM from a friend drew me to Roast for their Cocktail Hour yesterday, which never disappoints.  It ended up being a bit of a foodie gathering at one corner of the bar, as you will sometimes find with bargain-priced delicious food in Detroit.

After the Cocktail Hour ended there a few of us moved on to Martini Monday at Atlas Global Bistro where the cocktail hour never ends.  I grilled Dave Mancini (of Supino Pizzeria fame) about what exactly his talent will be in the show on Friday (it's good); and I got to chatting with Putnam Weekley, a man who is possibly one of the most knowledgeable "wine guys" in town.  Specifically we talked vermouth (you know how these things happen.)

I learned that Martini & Rossi vermouths are lame, instead opt for Stock brand vermouth which is less expensive and actually better (to the informed palate).  At least if you are going with a basic vermouth.  If you really want to wow yourself you have to try Carpano Antica red vermouth.  Putnam swears it is the best, like eight times over.

Well, for sharing this information I promised Putnam I would dedicate the following videos to him.  Martini & Rossi may not be the best vermouth on the market, but they hands-down had the best ads in the 70s!

Angie in a white mood.

Jaclyn feeling red.

File this post under "raising standards" ... the more you drink the more you know!  You can glean some of Putnam's extensive knowledge on his blog (being added to my blogroll as I type this) and in the bar zone at El Barzon, where he is charge of their excellent beverage selection.

And now I will expect that I'll be enjoying a glorious manhattan the next time you have me over for cocktails!


Jim said...

I don't know if I can handle the overload of posts, SG.

Another upscale vermouth I like is 'Vya', which is available for sale in MI. Usually about $25 a bottle, made in Cali. It's excellent. Wine Castle and Morgan and York sell it in A2, dunno about Detroit.

I'm excited to try this new one, too.

Martini & Rossi does have its place: it doesn't make much sense to mix something fine with Wild Turkey, Rebel Yell, Old Crow, etc.

putnam said...

Thanks for the M&R tubes. Classic!

May I post a longwinded reply?

It might not hurt to update our vermouth judgments. I suppose contents may vary over time ... apparently Noilly-Prat recently changed its dry formula available in North America (Robert Hess said so, IIRC). We should schedule a rematch - maybe El Barzon would work. Also - and it must be at least an 80/20 rule of thumb - I've found that the better the ads the lamer the (agricultural) product. The margins at the good end are just so slim.

About two years ago I organized a panel to evaluate vermouths - because, well, no one else seemed to be doing it. By far, our favorite cheap sweet vermouth was Stock - it was also the cheapest outright.

Cinzano did well. One blogger calls it a "gateway Campari" because it is pretty bitter (actually, sweet vermouth and Campari are descended from a common aperitivo ancestor.)

The Vya products do not work for me. I taste too much vegetative flavor combined with a thick sensation of stewed hot fruit in the base wine, no surprise considering the latitude of its origin. I want more clarity and cut. I wonder if Michigan could produce a great vermouth ...?

M&R was completely undrinkable to everyone on the panel.

Since the tasting, I've also found Gallo to be perfectly adequate.

Not currently available in MI (I think), a French brand called Dolin is pretty neat - Dolin sweet is much lighter and more delicate than the Italians. I'd stock a bar with that smack.

jarred said...

another commercial for your viewing pleasure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1daIIDQsXI

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