Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Stephen Rutt’s Wintering and Italicus Liqueur

‘Wintering’ is the book I’m currently reading, and it is every bit as good as ‘The Seafarers’ was (definitely one of the best books of my reading year). I love the way that Rutt makes birding and reasonably technical information feel really accessible to someone like me (interested but lacking in anything more than general knowledge).

‘Wintering’ is about a season with geese, and that’s another thing I love about this book - I live in a city centre, geese are one of the few birds I can reliably see on the river outside my flat, and one of the very few birds I hear as they fly overhead in autumn. A lot of nature writing can feel exclusive, but this doesn’t. More than anything though Rutt is just really good at what he does, and an absolute pleasure to read. Both his books would make wonderful presents.

The only link between Italicus, a bergamot flavoured liqueur, and ‘Wintering’ is a vague idea in my own mind about migration - in this case to the south via the medium of drink. As far as I can gather Italicus has been around on the market for about 2 years, and is slowly appearing in more shops and bars. It is a particularly attractive looking bottle which is a bonus if it’s meant for a gift.

It’s also part of the amaro family (so a kind of cousin to Vermouth) and according to their website the number one trending aperitivo of 2019. There’s an origin story that says it’s based on a recipe from the 1850’s (I also heard that the original recipe needed a lot of tweaking) but that’s sort of besides the point. The key think here is that it’s a really good drink.

The citrusy bergamot flavour is interesting without being outlandish, other floral notes blend well - it’s kind of a liquid version of Elizabeth Von Arnim’s ‘The Enchanted April’, it was sweeter than I expected, and has more than enough punch to hold its own in all sorts of cocktails. There are plenty of recipes for those around, including one where you drink it like a toddy with a spoon of honey, and a dash of orange bitters garnished with a cinnamon stick and clove studded lemon. It would definitely be an interesting addition for any home bar.

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