Don’t let the transparent green bottle confuse you: This is not gin. Italicus is rather a new Italian citrus liqueur made from Bergamot oranges, created by barman Giuseppe Gallo, who gives a nod to the classic rosolio category (a liqueur derived from rose petals) by updating a classic 19th century recipe with his family’s own recipes. (The color and column is inspired by the Amalfi Coast.)
Despite the name, Italicus isn’t technically a rosolio or rose liqueur. Bergamot oranges are the key ingredient here, these coming from Calabria. Some details on how they’re used:
The process includes macerating its botanicals for about ten days. Calabrian bergamot oranges from a protected area of origin (IGP) extending from the Tyrrhenian Coast to the shores of the Ionian Sea, together with Sicilian citrons, are gently pressed in cold water. This is a long-lost process called sfumatura, which releases their essential oils. The mixture is then fortified with natural beet sugar, Italian neutral grain spirit and pure water. It is produced at Torino Distillati in Moncalieri, led by the Vergnano family of craft distillers since its founding in 1906.
So, let’s give it a try.
First, be clear that this may be made with oranges, but it’s still got plenty of rose-petal influence, with a distinctly floral nose that evokes both roses and orange blossoms. There’s a rosemary-like herbal quality beneath that, but the flowers do most of the talking here. The palate of the pale gold liqueur is lighter on the orange than I was expecting, offering a quite sweet but gently oily body that provides notes of tea leaf and an herbal component — more rosemary, thyme — that builds over time. There’s a very gentle bitterness on the finish that hints at Italian amari, but it’s not a primary focus of the spirit. As it stands, think of it more as a lower-alcohol, much more floral version of a triple sec — and my suggestion would be to use it in a similar fashion.
Italicus does suggest using the spirit in a type of spritz, mixing it 50:50 with Prosecco and serving over ice. For what it’s worth, I didn’t care for this construction at all, which ended up much too sweet for my tastes.