A new aperitivo brand has been launched by Italian spirits specialist Giuseppe Gallo, based on the historic and little-known style called rosolio.
Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto is a modern take on this forgotten category, championing the bergamot fruit and combining it with ingredients such as camomile, lavender, gentian, yellow roses, melissa balm and Italian fruit cedro.
It is based on a late 19th-century recipe for rosolio – an aperitivo spirit that dates back to the Renaissance and was once so popular in Italy that different regions had their own distinctive variations.
Produced at a family-owned distillery established in 1906 in Moncalieri in Turin, the new brand fulfils Giuseppe’s life-long ambition to bring back the rosolio category.
At 20% ABV, it is recommended for serving 50/50 with prosecco over ice and garnished with three green olives to balance the floral aromas with a touch of saltiness. It has also been designed for use in cocktails.
Italicus is initially being launched by Giuseppe’s company, Italspirits, in London, New York City and Milan, supported by leading bartender Simone Caporale, co-founder of global drinks network P(our) and formerly at The Langham’s Artesian bar in London. It is available from Speciality Drinks.
Giuseppe, who was previously award-winning global brand ambassador for Martini vermouth, said: “The launch of Italicus marks the end of a life-long ambition to bring back the rosolio category which was first born during the renaissance with Caterina de Medici in Firenze.
“Italicus is personal to me as I’ve introduced elements of my own family’s recipes that go back many
“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
“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.”
It is made with bergamot from the Unesco-protected area in Italy’s Calabrian region and citrus fruit cedro from Sicily which are infused in cold water to release their essential oils, using a traditional process called sfumatura, before being blended with Italian neutral grain spirit.
A delicate combination of Roman camomile from Lazio, lavender, gentian, yellow roses and melissa balm from northern Italy is then macerated together for several days before being married with the bergamot and cedro essential oils to create the final liquid.
According to Giuseppe’s tasting notes, Italicus is lightly citrus on the nose with hints of rose and lavender. On the palate, fresh tones of ripe citrus fruits are balanced with a light bitter and floral spice before giving way to a complex and long-lasting finish.
Simone from P(our) 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.”
Alex Kratena, who co-founded P(our) with Simone, described Italicus as “by far one of my favourite brands to come onto the bar scene this year and an amazing new addition to my flavour library”.
The elegant bottle, designed by award-winning creative agency Stranger & Stranger, pays tribute to Italian heritage and the native flavours found across the country’s 20 regions.
The stopper features a Renaissance-style bacchus figure harvesting bergamot and is framed by the shape of a bergamot fruit cross-sectioned.
The black and white surround colouring of the cap is inspired by Italian gothic architecture, while the colour of the glass is inspired by the Grotta Azzura in Capri and the clear waters of the Amalfi Coast where Giuseppe spent his childhood peeling fruit beneath bergamot trees to make rosolio with his mother.
Rowan Miller, design director at 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.”