The history of Italian liquors goes back to that of most liquors in the Middle Ages when in monasteries monks tried to make medicinal concoctions, using alcohol and medicinal herbs.
Later, these liquors reached high society, however, the secrecy of their elaboration remained under lock and key in many cases, without revealing this until our days.
Italian liqueurs, also known as liquori, are alcoholic beverages such as acetate or brandy that go through a process of maceration, cold mixing, or infusion, heating it with different herbs, fruits, plants, honey, sugar, sweet milk and other ingredients.
Classes of Italian liquors
- Liquors for appetizers: they are usually taken before or with appetizers to stimulate the appetite for the main course. They are less sweet than digestive liquors. They are often light, dry, preferably bitter or made from herbs. They are accompanied by a snack.
- Digestive liquors: it is a beverage that is served after meals, to help the digestion of it. They usually contain herbs, spices and a higher proportion of alcohol. The first digestive liquors were used in Greek and Roman culture.
- Sweet liqueurs: this Italian liqueur class has a sweet taste, as its name suggests, and they are very aromatic. Some of the most popular are the Frangelico, Sambuca or Amaretto.
- Semi-sweet liqueurs: these drinks are found on horseback between bitter liqueurs and sweet liquors, some of these Italian liqueurs can be the Campari, Cynar, Strega or Limoncello.
- Bitter liquors: Italian liqueurs with a bitter taste that comes from its production by infusing herbs. They may have a syrupy or bittersweet taste dominated by bitter notes, their alcohol content may vary between 16% and 40%. Many types of “Amari” are in this category.
The most famous Italian brands and liquors
Amaro Fernet Branca: Made from the infusion of numerous ingredients, obtained from different parts of the world. After the infusion, the amaro rests in wooden barrels for at least a year. His name, according to some comes from the Milanese dialect “fernet” (clean iron), referring to a piece of iron used to make the infusion. In fact, it is in Milan where the Amaro Fernet acquired its fame, thanks to the producer Bernardino Branca, who started his business more than 150 years ago and today is still the leader. The Amaro Fernet is usually consumed after meals, to help with digestion, or it can also be added to coffee. In addition there is another very popular amaro brand Amaro Braulio, however, the amaro was created by monks for medicinal purposes.
Amaretto: It is a sweet Italian liqueur made with almonds, Amaretto Disaronno or Averna are some of the most popular. This Italian liquor is prepared using almond essence, however previously it was used to be made by macerating apricot seeds. It has an amber color and an almond aroma. It is usually taken after meals since it is digestive; It can also be used as an ingredient in cakes and cocktails. His name means “a bit bitter”.
Campari: Original from the Piedmont region, it is an Italian aperitif liqueur and contains more than 60 ingredients, including rhubarb, ginseng, herbs, bergamot or orange peel. It is an Italian liqueur reddish, bitter and is usually taken in various forms such as for example grape juice, vodka or tonic, and ice. The most “daring” take the Campari “on the rocks”, with mineral water or cava.
Cynar: This Italian aperitif liqueur is prepared with artichokes and other 13 herbs and plants with 16.5% alcohol. The Cynar has a dark brown appearance and a bittersweet flavor with a copper aftertaste; mix well with tonic or ice.
Frangelico: made from hazelnuts, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, sugar, herbs; so it has a sweet taste. The Italian liquor Frangelico is usually taken after dinners and combined with coffee and espresso. This Italian liquor is known for its bottle shaped like a Franciscan monk. It takes place in the city of Canale in the Piedmont region. Frangelico contains 24% alcohol.
Grappa: This Italian liquor is made by fermenting skins, seeds and stems of grapes (waste from winemaking) and grape marc. Its flavor varies depending on the quality of the grape and there are other varieties to which are added pears, apples, plums, and various types of grapes and berries or herbs. The color of the grappa is yellow when it is aged, otherwise, it is clear. It is a very popular drink in the north of Italy, the most popular brands are Nonino, Brotto, and Jacopo. It is usually taken after dinners as a digestive.
Limoncello: It is one of the most popular drinks in Italy, originally from the Sorrento region. It is produced by the fermentation of lemons crust in alcohol. The limoncello is a very popular drink in summer and is served cold.
Martini: one of the largest and most popular brands in Italy founded in 1879, dedicated to the manufacture of sweet Vermouth (Martini rosso and Bianco) and extra dry. The Martini is usually served with appetizers and is made from white wine, wormwood, and other bitter substances.
Sambuca: is an Italian liquor based on anise and white elderflowers, is white and has a strong and sweet flavor. It is usually taken as a digestive or also adding water. If we ask for Sambuca in a restaurant, it may be served with coffee beans floating and flambéado.
Strega, It is a digestive liqueur with a bittersweet taste and yellow color since it is composed of saffron, in addition to fennel and mint among other 60 ingredients. La Strega is originally from Benevento, Campania and its name means “witch” because it referred to witchcraft practices in the city of Benevento, at the time of the Lombard invasion.
Table summarize liquor classes:
|Amaro Fernet Branca||Numerous ingredients from different parts of the world.||Digestive or can also be added to coffee. It was created for medicinal purposes.|
|Amaretto||Made with almonds.||Digestive.|
|Campari||60 ingredients including rhubarb, ginseng, herbs, bergamot or orange peel.||It is usually taken in various ways such as with grape juice, vodka or tonic, and ice.|
|Cynar||Artichokes and other 13 herbs and plants.||Mix well with tonic or ice.|
|Frangelico||Hazelnuts, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, sugar, herbs.||It is served after dinners and combined with coffee and espresso.|
|Grappa||Skins, seeds and stems of grapes (residues from winemaking) and grape marc.||Digestive.|
|Limoncello||Bark of lemons.||It is served cold in summer.|
|Martini||White wine, absinthe, and other bitter substances.||Served with the appetizers.|
|Sambuca||Anise with white elderflowers.||Digestive.|
|Strega||Saffron, fennel, mint.||Digestive.|
I hope you liked this tasty liquori post :3 see you all in the next one.