These Alpine liqueurs will put the après-ski spirit into your lockdown
You’ve got to raise a glass to them, haven’t you? After all, who else would think of making a liqueur out of pine cones? And yet, here they stand — vibrant of label and bitter of taste. Not convinced? Well, then you’re missing out. Because, up on the wild and windy slopes of the Alps, alchemists and alcoholics are whipping up some of the most singular spirits to ever pass your lips.
Whether it’s lavender picked from the Liri Valley, gentian plucked from the southern slopes of Monte Rosa, or wormwood pulled from the Belledonne peaks, there are more rinds, woods, seeds, stems and roots bundled into these bottles than you can shake a ski pole at.
And that’s no coincidence — because they’re also some of the finest après-ski fuels you’ve ever likely to lap up. So, if you’re missing the mountains during lockdown, try taking a tart tot of these liqueurs…
Where does it come from? Since 1873, Paolucci Liquori have been making this liqueur in the Italian town of Sora. It has been globally recognised for almost a century, after winning the Gold Medal at the Global Exposition of Rome in 1922.
What is it made with? The age-old recipe is a closely guarded family secret — but there are notes of blood orange swirling around, with hints of herby oregano and other aromatic botanicals.
How should you drink it? One of Paolucci’s official serves sees Amaro CioCiaro blended with Scotch, Sherry and Honey Liqueur to create ‘The Bottom Line’ cocktail.
Where does it come from? The foot of the Alps — specifically the mountainous Piedmont region of Italy, where the Quaglia Distillery whips up its Liquore Pino Mugo using pine resin from the local forests.
What is it made with? Pine, pine and more pine. It’s woodier than an IKEA bed frame. Infused with the earthy resin of pine cones, the resulting liqueur is incredibly strong — but surprisingly drinkable.
How should you drink it? Either simply — chilled and served straight as a digestif — or stirred into your icy Gin and Tonic.
Where does it come from? Curiously, not Montenegro. Instead, this bitter herbaceous amaro is blended into being in northern Italy — where it was first produced by Stanislao Cobianchi in 1885.
What is it made with? An undisclosed blend of 40 botanicals. Several ingredients have been revealed by the brand — vanilla, orange and eucalyptus — but the other woods, seeds, flowers, fruits, rinds and roots remain a secret.
How should you drink it? Throw as much ice as you can into a tumbler, pour in your Amaro Montenegro, and then add both a touch of tonic (for the complementary quinine) and a tab of orange peel.
Where does it come from? Formulated in Milan in 1845 (by self-taught herbalist Bernardino Branca) Fernet Branca started out as a ‘cure’ for cholera. Today enjoyed as an amaro, it maintains a high ABV of 39%.
What is it made with? Again, it’s a secret. In fact, Fernet Branca president Niccolò Branca personally measures out the aromatics during the production process. Among the known ingredients: saffron; peppermint; myrrh; chamomile; and Chinese rhubarb.
How should you drink it? Cocktails containing Fernet Branca do exist — including the ‘Toronto’ and ‘Fanciulli’, but we’d always pour it neat. Decant into a cordial glass, and enjoy as a digestif.
Where does it come from? Originally created in Riga in 1847, this traditional liqueur made from an old Danish recipe — and is Wolfschmidt’s signature take on thick, honeyed, mouth-coating Kummel.
What is it made with? Spicier than many of the liqueurs on this list, Wolfschmidt’s Kummel is blended with punchy caraway, potent cumin and pungent aniseed.
How should you drink it? Chilled to within an inch of its life. Like a good vodka, you should probably whack it in the freezer — or stick it into the snow — an hour or two before you pour yourself a nip.
Want to keep your drinks cabinet closer to home? Here’s a brief, bottled introduction to English whisky…
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