September 19, 2019

In Fine Spirits: Italy’s Classic Liqueurs

When one thinks of Italy, rolling hills; Vespas; and heavenly food and wine come to mind. But it’s …

By Federica Rustico




Photo Source: Vicky Wasik

When one thinks of Italy, rolling hills; Vespas; and heavenly food and wine come to mind. But it’s not just mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, Prosecco and wines that Italians are known for. Italy’s liquor production is renowned worldwide, too.

Limoncello – the famous Campan liquor made with lemons from Sorrento – will definitely ring a bell. But that’s just one of Italy’s finest spirits, also known as a “post-meal digestive” or “ammazza caffe” (literally translated “coffee killer”).

Photo Source: Vicky Wasik

Another famous Italian liquor is the Amaro Montenegro, named after Princess Elena of Montenegro who married King Victor Emmanuel III. It’s a traditional amaro, or bitter, distilled in Bologna with a blend of 40 different botanicals.

If you find yourself in the Island of Ischia, ordering a Rucolino – Ischia’s traditional liquor – is a must. Its strong taste comes from the “ruchetta selvatica” or wild arucola that is found on the island.

Photo Source: Wine Folly

When in Tuscany, the must-order post-dinner drink is Vin Santo, a sweet wine that is usually paired with cantucci – almond biscuits – that are dipped inside the Vin Santo!

Another you cannot miss is the sweet and fruity liquor prepared with sour cherries, red wine, alcohol and sugar known as Ratafia. This fantastic digestive has a purple and red color and can be found in many different variants around the Italian peninsula. The most famous regions that produce it are Piedmont and Abbruzzo.

Photo Source: Pietro Gallo Estate

When you want to go for something a little stronger, Grappa is the way to go. This spirit from the north of Italy is made by distilling the grapes’ peels, seeds and stems that are left over from wine making.

While the true essence of the Sardinian spirit is found in the famous Mirto – obtained from the alcoholic maceration of myrtle berries, a typical shrub of the Macchia Mediterranean.

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