Gallo resurrects rosolio category with ItalicusBy Annie Hayes
Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo is reviving the rosolio aperitivo category with the launch of Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, created using a recipe dating back to the 1800s.
Production of Italicus – made at a family-owned distillery in Moncalieri, Torino – begins with bergamot from the UNESCO-protected area in the Calabrian region and cedro from Sicilia.
The two ingredients undergo the sfumatura process – a traditional technique for manually extracting essential oils – before being blended with Italian neutral grain spirit.
After this, Roman chamomile from Lazio, lavender, gentian, yellow roses and melissa balm from Northern Italy are macerated together for several days before being added to the liquid.
Gallo said: “This is an incredible moment in my career, and I’m very pleased to share it with some of the best in the business, who I’m proud to call my friends. The launch of Italicus marks the end of a life-long ambition to bring back the rosolio category.
“Italicus is personal to me as I’ve introduced elements of my own family’s recipes that go back many generations. Over the past few years I have sourced some of the finest ingredients that my beloved Italy has to offer, including the unique taste of cedri from Sicilia and of course the wonderful bergamot from Calabria.”
Before vermouth, bitters and amaro, rosolio was the main aperitivo enjoyed by the King of Savoia. The liquid was often served as “Aperitivo di Corte” to guests during royal parties.
Rosolio became so popular that each of Italy’s regions had their own distinctive variations, and it became known as “the aperitivo of the people”.
However, at the beginning of the 19th century, King Vittorio Amedeo III incentivised farmers to switch production from rosario to vermouth after an opportunity came before him to produce a large amount of white wine.
He banned rosolio from the Royal House, adjusted his annual order to feature vermouth, and from then onwards the rosolio category was stilled.
Gallo continued: “It has been my childhood dream to create the quintessential expression of what makes Italy the most remarkable and unforgettable country in the world for so many people, bottling the essence of La Bella Italia.
“Rosolio means ‘the dew of the sun’ and Italicus is truly a sip of Italy, bringing a forgotten category back to the cocktail industry at long last.”
Italicus is described as “lightly citrus” on the nose, with hints of rose and lavender, while the palate offers “fresh tones of ripe citrus fruits” balanced with a “light bitter and floral spice” and a “complex and long lasting finish”.
Italicus is said to be best enjoyed Prosecco over ice at a ratio of 1:1, and garnished with three green olives.
P(OUR) Symposium co-founders Simone Caporale and Alex Kratena created two bespoke Italicus cocktails at the launch of the spirit which took place at the Beaufort Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London.
Caporale said: “Despite the market being saturated with new products released each week, Italicus caught my attention and made me fall in love instantly, as it uses a traditional recipe with a fresh modern flavour profile – bergamot being the main note.
“It is a special liquid, which creates beautiful drinks and can be enjoyed alongside a variety of traditional Italian dishes.”
‘By far one of my favourite brands to come onto bar scene this year and an amazing new addition to my flavour library’, added Kratena.
Designed by Stranger & Stranger, the Italicus bottle is intended to pay tribute to Italy’s history and heritage along with the native flavours found across the country’s 20 regions.
The stopper features a renaissance-style Bacchus harvesting bergamot, framed by the shape of a bergamot fruit, while the colour of the glass is reminiscent of the Grotta Azzura in Capri and the waters of the Amalfi Coast – where Gallo spent his childhood.
Rowan Miller, design director, Stranger & Stranger said: “From the initial briefing it was clear we needed to create something authentic and iconic to evoke the essence, elegance and charm of Italy.
“Italicus is a multifaceted product, not about one place or one period. So we encompassed this nature through the design: we use a colour palette that evokes the Mediterranean; blue glass blends with yellow liquid creating an aqua marine of the Amalfi coast; the green hues of bergamot and lush landscape set against the gold of an Italian sun.
“Just as an Italian cathedral is filled with many different styles from different eras, our final pack design is a balanced mix of Italian harmony and beauty.”
Bottled at 20% abv, Italicus will be made available from Speciality Drinks and selected on-trade accounts across the UK from 5 September, carrying an RRP of £40.00. It will also make its debut in Milan and New York City.