Contratto Spritis

100 years of history, a revival of a fashion and a great drink…

The first Contratto Vermouth recipes date back to the 1890s when herbs and spices were used to cover "off tastes" or oxidized wines. At that time nobody dared to throw away wine and the herbal infusion would cover any unpleasant tastes. In the 1920s Vermouth production increased, still a lot of oxidized wine was being used as the base wine, but recipes were modified for a fresher taste. Most of the Vermouth was exported and this type of spirit became the "in" drink of the time. Contratto Vermouth di Torino became very popular in the 1930s with the winery's annual production totaling 100,000 bottles.

After World War II the popularity of Vermouth diminished albeit it was still consumed in Europe and overseas. In the 1960s Vermouth became out of fashion, especially in Italy, and the Contrattos decided to cease the production entirely.

Today, with the revival of classic spirits and a booming cocktail culture, Contratto reintroduced six historic products that embrace old tradition and modern demand, Contratto Vermouth Bianco, Vermouth Rosso, Americano Rosso (also a Vermouth), Fernet, Aperitif and Bitter. Using Cortese as the base for the Vermouths, an indigenous white grape variety, the wine is being infused with 30 to 50 organic premium natural herbs, spices, roots and seeds and then fortified with Italian brandy. This traditional process, based on cold maceration is used to create a sophisticated elixir that is complex, fresh, exciting and well balanced between Asian medicinal herbs, Italian spices and crisp and bitter citrus fruit.

While in the past 20 to 30 years, Vermouth was mainly used as a cocktail ingredient, Contratto's reintroduction of the Vermouth now makes for a great aperitif on its own, simply poured over ice and garnished with a lemon or orange. The intense herbal, fruit and spice flavors make no room for dilution. Who likes his cocktail more bubbly might mix the Vermouth or Aperitif with sparkling wine or the Bitter with soda water.

While the Fernet is a digestive spirit the Bitter and Aperitif are meant to be mixed in cocktails to be enjoyed before dinner. All three spirits are based on original Contratto recipes from the 1930s. The flavors of roghly 30 different premium natural herbs and botanicals are extracted by cold maceration, create a sophisticated elixir with 100% natural flavors and colors.

Contratto Aperitif has just 13.5 percent alcohol, a soft tartness and subtle herbaceousness. Mixed with sparkling wine or club soda, it’s a refreshing way to start a night. The deep-magenta Bitter is 22 percent alcohol with a stronger, more medicinal taste, but it’s still an early evening sipper.

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