Like wine, there is a great difference between industrial mass
production and small scale family operations. Our new selection of
vermouth, grappe and amari are entirely artisanal and family
owned, with many of these bottles difficuclt to find outside
their home region.
Vermouth, real vermouth, is back in a big way thanks to the popularity of drinks such as the Negroni and Americano. Antica Torino has a complexity rarely encountered in vermouth and is perfect on its own over ice, or in a cocktail.
Grappa originated in Italy's northern provinces and is distilled from grape pomace (skins, pulp, seeds and stems). Artisanal Grappa, such as those from Nonino and Questa e Vera, is made using single batch, discontinuous distillation where steam is used to heat the individual stills, allowing for greater control of the finished product. Bartenders today are using grappa in a varietry of coktials but traditionally it is served in a small, clear tulip-shaped glass at cellar temperature, about 15°C, and is enjoyed as a digestive to end a meal, or to accompany simple desserts such as torta di ricotta, panforte and dark chocolate. Alternatively, you can pour grappa into an espresso coffee to create a caffè corretto, meaning corrected coffee. In the Veneto, there is resentin, meaning little rinser: after finishing a cup of espresso with sugar, add a little splash of Grappa, swirl and drink in one sip!
Italy is the birthplace for amari, the plural for amaro - meaning bitter in
Italian. Amari are generally bittersweet, herbal liqueurs served as a digestive.
They are made by macerating a variety of herbs, roots, vegetables, fruits and
spices in pure alcohol and then sweetened with sugar. It was the monks in the
abbeys and monasteries around Italy that created elixirs to aid digestion and
perhaps to protect against illness and plagues. These tonics were almost always
very bitter as sugar was a luxury item. Commercial production began around the
mid 1800's and the recipes remain a closely guarded secret, often only known to
just a few family members. Every region in Italy has its own amaro made from
local ingredients and today, no bar is complete without a selection of amari.
These are best served chilled or over ice following a