Monday, 5 January 2015

2015 New Booze Alert: Stellacello Amaro London


Well hello there! 2015 is a brand new year, and to celebrate, we have a brand new drink for you to seek out.

You might still wince at the thought of alcohol; we all tend to overindulge at Christmas, and many will have overdone it in the wee hours of January 1st too... Hands up who woke up with a sore head? *raises hand*... But anyway, if like me, you’re not doing Dry January (I prefer to drink less but better), then you’ll LOVE this.

Thinking back to September, do you recall Stellacello ‘Pompelmo’ Liqueur? A take on the traditional Italian aperitivo/digestivo, Limoncello; using grapefruit, as opposed to lemons, and hailing not from Italy, but East London. We bloody loved it, and now producer Joe Stella has come up trumps with another fine liquid to add to the family. He kindly sent us some to sample, and YES, it has another super cool label.

Presenting; Stellacello ‘Amaro London’.

We’ve talked about amaros before – see our 4 Ways with Fernet Branca – they are bitter-sweet Italian herbal liqueurs that are usually drunk after dinner. But don’t worry; this is NOTHING like the Fernet monster. Stellacello’s ‘Amaro London’ has much softer citrus overtones that accentuate the eclectic combination of locally sourced herbs, fruits and spices, making it not only a delightful digestif, but an interesting aperitif possibility too.

Amaro recipes are confidential concoctions, typically produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark, and/or citrus peels in alcohol (either neutral spirits or wine), mixing the filtrate with sugar syrup, and allowing the mixture to age in casks or bottles. This Brittanic Bitter keeps its ingredients closely guarded too. To serve it neat over ice is the best way to familiarise yourself with it’s flavour; and watch the golden hues sparkle at you through the glass as it opens up.

You get an instant hit of sweet orange zest on the nose – a litte marmalade like *cue Paddington Bear reference* - along with spicy cloves. Then on the palate, it’s almost syrupy, and at an easy drinking 23%, intrigue sets in.

‘Amaro London’ playfully deceives you; the orange prompts you to think it’s sweet, the viscosity lures you in, then a grapefruit peel bitterness creeps in, and you get left with a luxurious menthol finish. Phwoar. Got that?

Photo Credit: stellacello_liqueurs instagram
If sipping it neat isn’t your bag, the other recommended serve is the signature ‘Stellaroni’; an East End take on the legendary Negroni cocktail. Just one part Stellacello, one gin and one sweet vermouth (see the recipe below). Simples. I’m a Negroni addict, but I think that even the most groany-negroni-hater could appreciate that this is a classy drink; it is a much smoother, less abrasive version, and before you know it you’ll be asking for another one.

Joe Stella also suggests 'The Stellanotto'; inspired by the nostalgic flavours of his favourite childhood soft drink 'Chinotto'. 'The Stellanotto' is a chinotto with a kick! 'Amaro London' over ice, topped with cola and garnished with a slice of lemon. Less alcoholic than most cocktails, this would be a good party drink that won’t leave you with gaps in your memory the next morning.

You can see where to get hold of ‘Amaro London’ on the Stellacello website; Polpo restaurants, Tate, Lardo Restaurant, Ottolenghi, The Modern Pantry, London Borough of Jam and Borough Wines are to name a few. If it’s anything like the ‘Pompelmo’ Liqueur, it’ll retail under the £30 mark (but don’t quote me on that). It’s also well worth following @stella_cello on Twitter to see all the latest updates on where to drink/buy it.

I guarantee that Stellacello’s ‘Amaro London’ will be the most attractive bottle to grace your booze shelf. So get your hands on some and be proud to own it. Cin Cin!

The Stellaroni (serves 1)

  • 1 part gin
  • 1 part Stellacello ‘Amaro London’
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • Ice
  • Pink grapefruit peel

Place the ice into a cocktail shaker, and add the gin, amaro and sweet vermouth.
Using a bar spoon, stir well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the grapefruit peel.

Alternatively, you can serve this in a tumbler over ice. 

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