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Punt e Mes

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Punt e Mes, one of the classic vermouths from Italy, is a restaurant critic’s -- and the intrepid foodie’s -- best friend. I’d forgotten that until one night recently when I was confronted with an Italian feast and a queasy stomach. Someone handed me a glass of Punt e Mes on the rocks with a twist of orange as an aperitif. I sipped. I immediately began to feel better. And by the time I finished the drink, I was actually feeling hungry -- something that had seemed impossible when I left the house -- ready to tackle what turned out to be a wonderful Italian meal that had been all day in the making. I think it’s the dose of bitters and all the secret herbs in the recipe (which dates from 1870) that does the trick. And it’s nothing like medicine: It’s quite delicious, sweet and bitter at the same time. It also makes a terrific Negroni cocktail.

Finding Carpano Punt e Mes around here, though, is sometimes tough. When I ran out last month, I think I had to try at least 10 wine shops and liquor stores before I turned up two bottles at Wally’s in West L.A. I bought both. Let’s hope they’ve re-ordered by now. Or if not, give them a nudge.

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Punt e Mes, $21.95. Wally’s Wine & Spirits, 2107 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 475-0606.

-- S. Irene Virbila


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