Capitano was a key destination for takeaway pizza before the ’rona ever reared its ugly head. But in recent weeks the Carlton restaurant has really started flexing its considerable muscles in the takeaway and delivery department.

Where to start? At the 80 bottles of wine it now delivers to surrounding suburbs? The square, deep-dish pizzas, a style that’s almost non-existent in Melbourne despite possessing a God-like crust? Or maybe the small range of heat-and-serve dishes, including frozen, vac-packed pizzas; macaroni in vodka sauce; and the cannelloni-like manicotti (thick tubes of pasta filled with ricotta and baked with tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella)?

All these things are great. But we can’t go past the ridiculousness of Capitano’s large-format batched cocktails. (The serving size is having a moment right now).

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“The cocktail program has, I think, always been quite a significant selling point for the venue,” says Capitano manager Darren Leaney, who’s previously worked at world-renowned cocktail bars such as Dandelyan (London) and Milk & Honey (New York). (We concur.)

The team wanted to keep that reputation going during the lockdown, so it’s selling 1.5-litre bottles of
Negroni (that’s a magnum); 750-millilitre and 1.5-litre Bellinis; and 750-millilitre serves of Limone Frizzante (fermented lemon cordial, dry vermouth, sherry, salt and bubbles). And there are some intriguing flavour combinations in 200-millilitre serves: a smoked-quince Rob Roy, an olive oil Martini, the Tiramisu Milk Punch and a sweet-savoury Old Fashioned with peanut-butter rum and miso syrup.

“We wanted to have as much fun with it as we could. Because we can’t have fun with people in the venue any more, which sucks,” Leaney says.

The cocktails eschew citrus and other easily perishable ingredients in favour of fermented cordials, kombuchas, powered acids and other shelf-stable components. In the fridge, the bottled drinks will last for months, not days or weeks.

“Who doesn’t want a magnum of Negroni sitting in their fridge?” Leaney says. “Why have one on hand when you could have 15?”

Capitano delivers to Carlton, Carlton North, Collingwood and Fitzroy. Pick-up is available for customers in other suburbs.