Move over Aperol, there’s a new front-runner for hottest aperitif – an Italian spirit called Italicus. Classified as a ‘rosolio’ – an Italian liqueur traditionally made from rose petals – it used to be the favourite drink of the royal Medicis.
The 20% ABV spirit is crafted from Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian citrus, lemon balm, lavender, yellow rose petals, chamomile and gentian root. And it comes in a very sexy, Art Deco-inspired pale blue bottle.
Italicus was awarded Best New Spirit 2017 at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards and listed in 2019/2020 as top-trending liquor brand by Drinks International. This year it debuted on Drinks International’s Best Selling Brands list at No.7 and Top Trending Brands list at No.2, with the website predicting “we can expect the brand to rise up the charts. Second in the trending list certainly suggests so”.
The brand was founded by drinks expert Giuseppe Gallo in 2016 in a bid to revive the rosolio aperitivo category. Last year, drinks giant Pernod Ricard announced it was partnering with Gallo to spearhead the international expansion of the Italian spirit.
Gilles Bogaert, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Pernod Ricard EMEA-LatAmL said: “Italicus has experienced a remarkable start, resonating with mixologists and consumers. We are thrilled to add Italicus to the Pernod Ricard portfolio and for the Group to help drive its future development.”
Gallo added: “Since its launch the brand has experienced success with both the on-trade and consumers, and it is now time to consolidate with this heavyweight strategic partner in order to accelerate our global distribution. We have an ambitious plan to build Italicus into one of the world’s most successful aperitivo brands.”
How do you drink it?
OK, that’s the back story. So how do you drink the Italian spirit? Italicus is usually enjoyed over ice, mixed with Prosecco or in a Martini.
“My original idea was for it to be a cocktail ingredient,” Gallo explained to Forbes. “Now, people are also telling me is works on its own as a digestif. A lot of bartenders are using it with mezcal. It works with anything smoky, especially whisky. My favorite way is to put it in nice and chilled into an IPA beer, absolutely stunning. I call that the IPAlicus.
“Our bergamot oranges are from a protected region of Calabria. We use the skin of citrons from Sicily. There’s Roman chamomile and lemon balm from Tuscany. The grain spirit is from Piedmont. The only thing not from Italy is the sugar cane, which we source from Latin America.”
You’ll find Italicus in Australia at retailers such as Dan Murphy’s for around $74 a bottle.