Review: Don Ciccio & Figli Cerasum Cherry Liqueur
Cherry liqueur has not traditionally received a standing ovation in the cocktail world. While liqueurs like Peter Heering have their place, unless you’re making a Singapore Sling they’re hardly a go-to ingredient. As such, most cherry liqueurs tend to gather dust on the back bar, all but ignored.
Cerasum, from the mad artisans at Don Ciccio & Figli, is something new, a liqueur that straddles the line between cherry liqueur and amaro — and ultimately I have to classify it more as the latter. I’ll allow them to explain:
Cerasum Cherry Liqueur is distilled and blended in the Don Ciccio & Figli distillery in Washington, DC. Francesco Amodeo, the Founder of Don Ciccio & Figli, developed The Cerasum recipe based off of an original Italian cherry liqueur recipe that his family developed as distillers living in the Amalfi coast as far back as the 1800’s. In crafting their spirits, DC&F start by making the original recipe, word for word, measurement by measurement and, after tasting the original recipe, will highlight the characteristics they love, making slight adjustments while maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the ingredients.
Cerasum is a bitter aperitivo based on an infusion of three types of cherries from Michigan, sakura blossoms from Virginia, and 10 selected roots and herbs including Juniper, Chamomile, Hibiscus, and resting at 23% ABV. While the aperitivo category has grown significantly in recent years, there are only a few other cherry-based liqueurs available in the U.S, making this an exciting addition to an intriguing category. The natural tartness of the cherries rolls into a root style bitterness that creates a recognizable sensation, providing an applicable new style of liqueur. The medium-to-high bitterness level was designed with cocktail aficionados and fans of bitter aperitivi like the Negroni and Americano in mind.
Cerasum is nothing if not a mindbender. The nose smells of sweet cherries — it’s quite engaging, really, lightly floral but quite sweet, very fragrant and bright. Take a sip and your world is upended: An immediate attack of bitterness assaults the palate — intense, dark gentian notes flood the senses right away. In a second or two, that’s washed away by a reprise of sweet and sour cherry notes, touched with notes of menthol and licorice. The finish combines it all into one incredibly lengthy experience, the sour and bitter notes bouncing off one another as they fight for dominance. The cherry-heavy conclusion finds room for a little chocolate, even, but it’s the bitter edge that lingers on the back of the throat for what seems like days.
I look forward to playing with it in Negronis and Boulevardiers.
A- / $35 / donciccioefigli.com