Eataly Toronto is partnering with Cocchi, bartenders’ beloved makers of Italian vermouths, for a limited-time bar takeover.  From June 1 to August 31, La Piazza di Eataly’s bar will be Bar Cocchi.  The spotlight is fully on this northern Italian line of vermouths.  Pull up a bar stool, or reserve a table, and discover the essential part of Italian culture that is aperitivo.

Bar Cocchi is offering tastings, cocktails and exclusive classes to help us get to know the world of Cocchi apperitivo.  (It’s pronounced koh-ki.)  I had a chance to sample a few of the cocktails on the Bar Cocchi menu, and I’m here to tell you, they are not to be missed.  These cocktails offered me a whole new avenue of exploration, and a world of new tastes.  Summer is an especially great time to try these refreshing drinks.  And if you like what you taste, you can buy bottles right on the spot.  I bought a bottle of Cocchi Aperitivo Americano on my way out, and it has been on heavy rotation in the summer drinks offerings.

What is Vermouth?

If, like me, you thought that vermouth only played the supporting role in cocktails, you’re in for a wonderful surprise.  But let’s begin at the beginning.  What is vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine.  It can be red or white, dry or sweet.  Dry white vermouth goes into a martini.  Sweet red vermouth into a Negroni.  This is how I’ve known them, as supporting players.

What Bar Cocchi helps to highlight is the complexity of the vermouths in their own right.  The wine is fortified with a spirit and aromatised with botanicals: roots, barks, flowers, seeds, barks and spices.  There are infinite possibilities for flavour profiles with these variables, and for 130 years the family Cocchi has been crafting its line of this classic aspect of Italian drinking culture.

Cocchi History and Character

Beginning in the early 20th century, Cocchi founder Giulio Cocchi sought to create spaces across Italy’s Piedmonte region for people to taste his original recipe Barolo Chinato, Americano aperitif, Vermouth, and more. These spaces were dubbed “Bar Cocchi.”

Coming as they do from the northern part of Italy, Cocchi vermouths have less of the citrus character of their southern counterparts.  They are more herbal, earthy and of the forest.

Of the several in the line currently featured at Eataly, highlights for me were the Aperitivo Americano, a floral and sweet white vermouth, and Barolo Chinato, a wonderfully earthy and rich red vermouth.

You can read about the whole line here.

Cocchi Cocktails

Bar Cocchi Cocktails

Bar Cocchi Cocktails

I really enjoyed tasting the vermouths on their own, deliberating on their characteristics and contrasting their flavours, and I recommend doing a tasting.

Having tasted them individually, I was all the more aware of how the vermouths come alive and their facets are highlighted in the well-balanced cocktail menu.  Vermouth is the hero ingredient in these drinks.  I highly recommend the Negroni and the Fico Acido, a summery delight made with Cocchi Vino Chinato and a house made fig syrup.

(And of course, there is a full Negroni menu next door at Trattoria Milano that we reviewed here.)

Cheers to summer, to new flavours and to adding to our cocktail repertoires!