Punt e Mes has a (potentially fanciful) history going back to 1870. More important to us today, it was one of the vermouths whose reintroduction alongside stablemate Carpano Antica to the States in during the 2000s was a sign of the cocktail revival.
Personally it was the first vermouth that made me stand up and take notice of it. Before that I had tried sweet vermouths like Vya and Dolin, but none of them really clicked for me. Punt e Mes was what made me go down the rabbit hole and has been the vermouth that I keep coming back to.
Punt e Mes
Nose: dark grape and raisin aromas, herbal and woody notes hiding in the background
Taste: big creamy grape sweetness up front, a crisp citrus twinge around the middle, fading into clean quinine bitterness
Finish: lingering quinine bitterness with a touch of grape
While it doesn't have a lot in the way of complexity, Punt e Mes makes up for it in clear, bold flavors. It has the heft to hold its own against other strong ingredients like Campari, giving a solid bass note to drinks. So while I wouldn't say that it's the best or more complex vermouth available right now, I continue to buy it because it provides such a good foundation for cocktails. The bitterness is clear without being overwhelming, though I can imagine that folks less used to bitter drinks might not agree with me on that last point.
Punt e Mes makes for a big, beefy Negroni. The nose is dominated by the lemon peel and gin, with the other components suppressed as long as the drink stays cold. The sip opens sweetly, but is quickly joined by the gin's bitterness in the middle, which unfolds into more layers of bitterness from the Campari and vermouth. The finish is long and lingers, primarily with quinine from the Punt e Mes.
Honestly, this is a great vermouth. If you've ever wanted more punch to your vermouth-driven drinks, I highly recommend getting a bottle. It also has the advantage of being semi-ubiquitous if you live in a larger metro area. While I can't find it at Safeway yet (though they do have Lillet), most of the higher end grocery stores carry it.
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