The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2011

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Page 40 of 120

WHAT WE’RE DRINKING story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong here are at least a dozen broad styles of amari, the Italian herbal liqueurs that are taking the cocktail world by storm, and the saffron-scented Amaro Nonino Quintessentia is among the lighter styles, based on citrus notes. Nonino anchors the signature Il Gitano (The Gypsy) cocktail at San Francisco’s Beretta restaurant, where bartender Adam Wilson is evangelical about amari. Wilson, whose passion has made Beretta the most active Amaro Nonino account in the nation, was introduced to Nonino when he worked with Mario Batali in New York and in Las Vegas. He began popular- izing the liqueur on the West Coast when he settled in San Francisco in 2007. Wilson’s runaway success with Nonino has as much to do with the modern way in which he’s using this traditional digestif in cocktails as with educating customers about where it fi ts into their lifestyle. “It’s a complex elixir,” mused Wilson, “and one that will certainly help you digest.” He cited numerous occasions during his tenure in Las Vegas when he encouraged guests who were struggling to fi nish a massive cut of meat to pause mid-meal to enjoy a Nonino, after which they were able to clean their plates. Artisanally distilled in Fruili, Italy, Nonino is a grappa-based liqueur infused with saffron, rhubarb, sweet and bitter orange, tamarind, galangal, licorice plus half dozen other ingre- dients and aged for fi ve years in a variety of oak barriques to achieve its exotic and complex fl avor. The unique combination of Asian, Middle Eastern 40 / the tasting panel / july 201 1 Follow the Light T San Francisco bartender Adam Wilson at Beretta. IL GITANO (The Gypsy) Lightly tropical with aromas of fresh green pineapple and a soft attack, Nonino works to balance the acidity and round up the fl avors of the citrus, taking the place of any additional sugars in Wilson’s cocktail. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 2 oz. Amaro Nonino 1 oz. fresh lime juice ½ oz. pineapple gum ½ oz. fresh grapefruit juice 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters Shake and serve up garnished with grated lime zest. and Western ingredients found in Nonino makes its fl avor elusive, but saffron aromas are evident, and on the palate it’s a fusion of cultures. Wilson’s approach to using Nonino in cocktails relies on working with com- plex ingredients but keeping the list of ingredients relatively simple, an ideal scenario for Nonino, which acts as a catalyst that integrates fl avors. Wilson’s Il Gitano cocktail is a crowd pleaser; balanced and complex, it creates an effortless bridge for anyone who enjoys aromatic white wine. “Bridging custom- ers to cocktails is all about trust,” offers Wilson. “When customers respond honestly about their tastes, it gives you an opportunity to educate them about what they’re enjoying.” AMARO NONINO STARS AT BERETTA IN SAN FRANCISCO

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