Grape, Grain & Other Booze: Part II – My New Italian Love Affair
by Matt Varona
What’s not to love about discovering something new? Especially when that ‘something’ is delicious, alcoholic and Italian!
Allow me to introduce you to Italicus: a recent revival of the sweetly-scented, rose-flavoured 300-year-old liqueur, Rosolio. Italian spirits expert, Giuseppe Gallo, has adapted the original mix by adding in a more distinct citrus edge with Calabrian bergamot (already a firm favourite at Carousel) and cedro from the Amalfi Coast (effectively an over-sized lemon prized for its rind and pith).
With new alcohol brands and categories cropping up every week or so, it beggars belief as to how it’s taken this long for Italicus to come back on the scene.
Some sources claim it’s down to the King of Savoy, Vittorio Amedeo III, who outlawed Rosolio in favour of Vermouth in the early 19th Century (he owned the vineyards after all). Whatever it was, I’m over the moon to have stumbled upon this time capsule of a drink. It’s ideal for cocktails, which means it keeps me entertained for a good while.
The Italicus website recommends using the liqueur in a spritz with Prosecco and garnishing with green olives. It’s simple and effective but just a tad too sweet. For me it needs a good straightening with something dry and a slap on the bottom with the help of something bitter…
Pale Lady Negroni
20ml Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
25ml Star of Bombay Gin
15ml Suze Gentian Bitters
20ml Cocchi Americano
Stir all the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass for roughly 30 seconds. Strain the liquid into a lo-ball glass with fresh ice, and garnish with the gently expressed peel of a fresh bergamot (orange will do if bergamot is unavailable).