April 14, 2017
Vodka has gone from over-rated to under-rated. Due to an over-abundance of flavorless vodkas enjoyed more for their lack of character than taste, and then an over-abundance of drinks made with them during the dark days (like, the 80s and 90s) of drinking, vodka got a bad – if, perhaps, deserved – rap. But here’s the thing: there are plenty of good vodkas today, which bring flavor and personality to the party. I didn’t know, however, that one was made in Italy!
Until recently, that is, when I received a bottle of Purus organic vodka in the mail (I know, I know, lucky me). Made from Italian grain and water from the Italian Alps, up in northern Italy’s Piedmont region, it felt on first glance – no, on first hearing about it – that the vodka was made for me. Though admittedly I used to live in Central Italy, but hey, it’s ITALY! And it’s made by the Sacchetto family. Who I don’t know, but c’mon, they sound awesome – and they placed their vodka, certified GMP free and organic by the USDA, in a curvingly artistic bottle that’s lovely and recyclable, as is the bottle top.
So, with all that I say they’re an awesome family. Well, that and from this vodka, which not only sounds good, but is good. It’s clean and bright, with a lush slightly sweet essence mingled with notes of peach and plum and good grain and the Italian springtime. It’s that kind of tipple. If you don’t believe me, it’s won a bunch of awards, too, picked by famous people. It’s dandy solo, over an ice cube or two. I liked a twist of lemon with it, too, as it balances a bit. It’s also a willing and able contributor to cocktails, including this one, where I bring two other Italian favs, Strega and Aperol, into the mix, and a little lemon. I’ll probably have another drink up here with it before long, as well, so don’t be a stranger.
A Picturesque Procession
2 ounces Purus Organic Italian vodka
3/4 ounces Strega
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Shake well in an Italian manner.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. And a toast.
April 19, 2013
I was in Italy recently (and yet still, thanks to the wonders of modern blogging, had posts up. Cause that’s how much I care. A whole lot), which isn’t too much of surprise for those who know me. I used to live there (detailed in detail on the Six Months in Italy blog), and have pals and favorite restaurants to visit when I go, as well as intriguing amaros and liqueurs and wines to track down and artistic sites and vistas to see. All that. This last time, I visited a city in Le Marche called Ascoli Piceno for the first time. It’s an off-the-tourist-track kind of a place by and large, but it has a lovely city center, all made of travertine, and some very lovely churches, and a history of pottery making. All good stuff. But perhaps best of all, it’s where the Meletti company is, a company known for making delicious imbibables. I was introduced to their products by the dashing Spirits Director at Vinum Importing, Andrew Bohrer (who also writes the blog Cask Strength). What I didn’t know, though, until getting to Ascoli Piceno, was how amazing the Meletti Café is.
It sits right on the corner (in the below shot, back right) of the city center I mentioned, which is known as the Piazza del Popolo, and which is one of the prettiest piazza’s I’ve been in:
After visiting it, I think I can say with some authority (considering just how many bars, lounges, watering holes, etc that I’ve been in) that Café Meletti is an awesome bar to spend a few afternoon hours within (in Italy cafés seem like local bars to me, as there is usually as much tipsy drinking as coffee drinking). I’d even go out on a tipsy limb and say one of the world’s best. It has an art deco-y style with remarkable tabletops:
and a beautiful bar manned by charming and helpful bartenders:
I ordered a Meletti Anisette, which is the most well-known of the Meletti offerings, and which is the finest anisette available anywhere. It has a layered anise flavor and an underlying sweetness that tastes pure and natural; it’s a liqueur that’s meant to be savored and not shot back, and one that mixes like a champion dancer into cocktails – but which has to be had solo (or with three very small additions) to be completely understood. I got it over a few ice cubes, and was going to have it just like that, until a gracious older Italian gentleman reached over and added three espresso beans for me. These are the “mosche” or flies, and not only add a faint pleasant zing to the flavor, but also represent health, happiness, and prosperity.
All of which I’m for. I took the Meletti Anisette outside to the tables there, and sipped it while watching the people stroll the piazza. It was an experience I’m darn glad to have had, and one I suggest you try, if you get the chance (and if you can’t get to Ascoli Piceno, then pick up a bottle of Meletti and have it on your back porch).