Summer has just ended, and you may already be tempted to start planning your next holiday. And what better way to look for inspiration than to explore the local traditions of your destination? Below we take a closer look at 15 of the most famous Italian liquors. Italian distillates date back to the middle ages. Back then the mixtures of herbs, spices, and fruits combined with alcohol and sugar were served as medicine.
Italy produces a wide variety of liquors of all kinds and flavours. Let’s take a closer look at some of the distillates that have conquered the taste buds of the world.
1. Fernet Branca
This digestif has a long history and it is produced using more than 27 herbs from around the world. It was first created in 1847 by Beniamino Fernet from Argentina. His objective was to create a medicine against malaria and cholera.
2. Disaronno Amaretto
In 1525, the painter Bernadino Luini chose a young innkeeper from Saronno as a model to represent the Virgin Mary in one of his frescoes. To show him her gratitude she offered him a drink made of herbs, toasted sugar, bitter almonds, and brandy. Today we know this drink as amaretto.
Campari symbolises the Italian style around the world. The colour is an iconic pink. It is produced by infusing aromatic herbs and fruits in a mixture of alcohol and water. However, the exact recipe remains a well-kept secret.
Aperol was first produced in Padua in 1919 and is one of the quintessential Italian liquors. The Barbieri brothers presented the drink at the first city fair and it was immediately loved by all. Today it is hard
Grappa is probably the most famous Italian distillate. It is obtained from the distillation of pomace, grape skins, and fruits which must all be grown and vinified in Italy. The Bortolo Nardini distillery in Bassano del Grappa is the oldest in the country.
This typical Campania liqueur is made from lemon peel – preferably from Amalfi or Sorrento lemons. The peels are soaked in alcohol and then mixed with a solution of water and sugar. Is there anything other than Limoncello which instantly makes you dream of Italy?
7. Sambuca Molinari
Everyone knows Sambuca but almost nobody knows the recipe. The Molinari family has been protecting the secret recipe fiercely since 1945. The enchanting star anise flavour is traditional and easily recognisable.
8. Strega Liquore
The Strega liquor takes its name from the witches of Benevento. According to legend, the witches were able to create a potion that could unite couples forever. Strega was created in 1860 and it contains more than 70 herbs and spices.
The main ingredient of Cynar is the artichoke leaves, which give this liquor its unmistakable aroma. Originally it was created as a digestive by the Venetian businessman Angelo Dalle Molle in 1948. Today the drink is an integral part of Italian pop culture.
10. Amaro Montenegro
In 1885, Stanislao Cobianchi opened a small liquor company in Bologna. Passionate about spices and aromatic herbs, he created a product with a unique flavour, which he dedicated to Elena Petrovich, princess of Montenegro and future queen of Italy.
VOV was created in 1845 by Gian Battista Pezziol, a pastry chef from Padua who combined egg yolks with sugar, alcohol and Marsala. This alcoholic zabaglione takes its name from the Venetian term ”vovi”, which very fittingly means ”eggs”.
12. Amaro Averna
Originally this bitter was produced by Benedictine monks. In 1859, Fray Girolamo, of the Holy Spirit Abbey of Caltanissetta, revealed the recipe for this distillate to the merchant Salvatore Averna as a gesture of gratitude for his philanthropic activities. Salvatore began the production of Averna in 1868. The liqueur became so famous that Salvatore received the title of ”Purveyor to the Royal Household” from Vittorio Emanuele III in 1912.
13. Amaro Lucano
This liqueur is a bitter symbol for the Basilicata region. It was Pasquale Vena, an owner of a small cookie factory in Pisticci, who invented the recipe. This Italian liquor should be enjoyed ice-cold at the end of the dinner; what else do you want in life?
Mirto represents the essence of Sardinia. The liqueur is obtained by macerating myrtle berries in alcohol. Myrtle is a typical plant found in the Mediterranean scrub. Initially, it was enjoyed as a sauce to season the game. Today it is the favourite digestif of many Italians.
Nocino is a typical liquor of the Modena tradition. The main ingredient is unripened nuts, which are traditionally harvested on St. John’s Day (June 24), or no later than early July.
Translated by Daniel Tangerner