Posted 7th November 2013
As part of October’s Great Bath Feast we were invited to a vermouth and cocktail masterclass at Nonna’s Italian restaurant in Bath. Award-winning mixologist Andy Dodd of Bristol’s very own Papaji’s on Whiteladies Rd hosted the event, which explored this aromatic fortified wine.
I had never been to Nonna’s before, but I plan to return to try the full menu after the tasters we tried that night. The restaurant is modern and luxurious, with a relaxed, cosy atmosphere and delicious smells coming from the kitchen.
We made our way downstairs to be welcomed with our first cocktail of the evening the Milano – Turino AKA The Americano – equal parts Campari and Carpano with a splash of soda water. Deliciously bitter, the cocktail set the scene for the evening and we settled down to listen to Andy introduce us to the world of vermouth.
On the table sat rows and rows of vermouth, from one of the first modern vermouths Carpano (Italian), which dates back to the 1760s, to the more recognisable Noilly Prat (French) and the classic Martini (Italian). While Andy gave us the lowdown on vermouth, including its wormwood roots that date back as far as 1500BC, we nibbled on some delicious cicchetti – Italian style tapas.
Cured meats and beautiful vegetable antipasto sat alongside arancini and mini pizza breads – all delicious and just what we needed to line our stomachs as we eyed up the cocktail list.
It wasn’t just vermouth on the menu that night, it just so happens that gin and vermouth are very good friends. As the evening progressed we tried several different takes on a classic martini – gin, vermouth, olive, lemon (should not be shaken, but stirred – a common misconception thanks to Bond).
My definite favourite was The Martinuez, made to a Harry ‘The Dean’ Johnson recipe dating back to 1882 and featuring Hayman’s Old Tom gin (delicious), Cocchi vermouth di Torino (delicious) and Boker’s bitters, garnished with a cherry and a twist of lemon – heaven!
We left having sampled pretty much all of the vermouths, we even tried one on its own with homemade chocolate! I can safely say that my eyes have been opened to vermouth and the sophisticated cocktails it makes – very different from my mum’s favourite vermouth and lemonade…Mum, if you’re reading this and your vermouth is languishing in the cupboard – chuck it – it goes off! Put it in the fridge next time and drink within two months.
I have also got a new restaurant to add to the to-try list and a new favourite cocktail – I will be heading to Papaji’s again soon – hopefully they’ll make me a Martinuez!
Nonna’s Italian Restaurant
31 Gay St, Bath
109 Whiteladies Rd