If you stopped over to my Italy blog, Six Months In Italy (where this blog is duplicated, but I think it fun enough to be in both spots), you’ve gotten some of the details on how handy my Italian/British landlords, Andrew and Marianne, are to have around. From getting Italian house in order, to opening up a tennis court at one of the other places they watch over so we could get some hillside tennis in, to pointing out new eating spots, to much more. One other way they’ve helped us out was with a random introduction the other day, when wife Nat and I were sitting having a drink at Bar Pina. A jolly British gentleman named Jim walked by, and they knew him, and so invited him to sit down, and did the introductions, and Jim let us know about a wine bar opening, happening in a few days at the new wine bar in the same building. And then (it was fate) the owner of the wine bar, Patrick, came by and we were introduced to him. Both fellas were very friendly, and Patrick not only was opening the new wine bar, but owned the enoteca, or wine shop, on the other side of Pina. To round things out before hitting the wine bar opening, we actually stopped at the enoteca the day before, where we talked to Patrick again. He not only pointed us towards a worthy Prosecco (a bit sweet, a bit dry, very bubbly) from Valdo, but also a super intriguing cherry liqueur called Sollucchero di Monte Valentino Liquore and available in “riserva” and regular varieties. I’m always for trying new liqueurs, and couldn’t wait to try it. It’s very lush, with layers of flavors, cherry, nutty, and with a strong chocolate finish. I (and I probably don’t even need to tell most of you this, cause you guessed it already) created a cocktail with it within days, which I’m calling the Sabato Bolla cocktail, and the recipe is below.
But first, we went to the opening of Patrick (and his friendly wife)’s new wine bar, L Enoteca Wine Club, on a Friday evening. It was a very tasteful, cute, spot, and decorated with style and a restrained grace. Now, it’s only because I have a trained eye that I could even pick up on the décor, because it was packed. We slid through the crowd (noticing during our smooth sliding that the language of choice by the crowd was English, of the British variety) from the front door about 10 feet over to the bar (there is a bar area on the right, and a handful of tables on the left), where Patrick was pouring wine at a quick pace:
He greeted us warmly, and in the finest manner—with a glass of bubbly. After getting our wine, we found a good spot to people watch, and to look stylish ourselves (here’s Nat demonstrating):
It turns out that the idea of a wine bar such as this (with an emphasis on wine and smaller tapas plates) is somewhat of an anomaly in Italy, especially in our rural area, which is why we found ourselves mostly surrounded by English speakers (though Patrick is Italian, I have to say, his English is pretty great). It was fun, even though we didn’t know anyone, to stand around sipping (first the bubbly, then a rich red wine) and snacking. We’ll definitely be back to sample more wine, both to the enoteca proper and to the wine club. But now, on to the cocktail:
Sabato Bolla Cocktail
1 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Sollucchero di Monte Valentino Liquore
Chilled Prosecco (Valdo’s Cuvee di Boj worked like an effervescent charm)
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice (or ice cubes, if you must). Add the gin and Sollucchero. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a smallish wine glass or flute.
3. Top with chilled Prosecco. Stir briefly.
A Note: It may be hard (or impossible) to get Sollucchero di Monte Valentino Liquore in the states. And honestly, I’m not 100% sure of a comparable substitute—it has such an individual taste. But doing a combination of Cherry Heering and a little dark chocolate will at least get you close.
A Second Note: Using the glassware at hand, I went with a little wine glass found here at the casa. If you want to use a flute, go on with your bubbly self. But you may want to increase the gin and a snitch.