Ten drinks inspired to famous movies by the Strega Alberti liqueur: trendy cocktails from the best Italian mixologists.
As always, Carlo Dutto introduces us to the company and offers us the ten widely documented recipes.
A century-old company and a solid family history
STREGA ALBERTI’s story begins in Benevento in 1860 with Giuseppe Alberti who opens a café in the main square of the city and begins the production of a liqueur called Strega, evoking in the name the ancient legend that wants Benevento to host Sabba and witch rituals. The liquor trade is rapidly establishing itself and continues even after the death of Giuseppe Alberti thanks to the guidance of the four brothers – Ugo, Vincenzo, Francesco and Luigi Alberti – who consolidate the family business. During the fascist period the company continued its expansion, after the inauguration of the Tripoli factory in Libya, followed by the one in Nice – France and one in Chiasso – Switzerland. In the post-war period Alberti rebuilt the structures damaged by American air raids, restarting its production in a short time: it was in this period (1950/1979) that the Alberti confectionery industry was born, designed for the production of chocolate and nougat. At the same time, the spread of the liqueur on the foreign market extended with the start of production in São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina. With over 150 years of history, Strega Alberti is now a sixth generation family business and is one of the most popular and appreciated brands on the Italian market (covering 80% of production) and abroad. In the world it is present in 40 countries, with the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Great Britain leading the way.
The Strega liqueur is a completely natural product obtained from the distillation of about 70 herbs and spices from various parts of the world. With its intense aromatic notes, with its unmistakable perfume, this liqueur creates, with the other ingredients, a surprising contrast between spicy and herbaceous elements, full-bodied and light, without losing its refined soul.
(inspired by the film “The long blue road”, by Gillo Pontecorvo, 1957)
BARMAN: Leandro Serra bar manager of The Duke Cocktail Lounge Bar de La Maddalena (OT) and vice-president of Aibes
3 cl Centenary rum
2 cl Strega liqueur
0.5 cl Blue Curaçao
5 cl almond milk
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: an edible violet
With the shake & strain technique, pour the Centenario ron, the Blue Curaçao, the Strega liqueur and the almond milk into a shaker. Shake vigorously, pour into an Old Fashioned glass and fill with crushed ice, in order to give the sensation of the foam of the drink that slams on the rocks. Decorate with an edible violet.
The drink is inspired by the film ‘The long blue road’, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo and based on the novel ‘Squarciò’, by Franco Solinas. Inspiration linked to the Sardinian origin of the barman Leandro Serra, vice-president of Aibes, who lives and works in La Maddalena, where the story and place of origin of the screenwriter and writer Franco Solinas is set – to whom the prestigious Solinas Prize is dedicated – and of the main character, Squarciò, played in the film by Yves Montand. And the drink is inspired, starting from its blue color, similar to the emerald sea of La Maddalena, to this story of a fisherman who uses bombs to fish, a particular character in that historical period of the archipelago, where his way of working was not well seen by other fishermen. The end of the film, like the drink, is a little bitter, with the death of the protagonist, in an attempt to recover the explosives for fishing.
DRINK: STREGA PUNCH
(inspired by the film “Made – Two cheaters in New York”, by Jon Favreau, 2001)
BARMAN: Jonathan Bergamasco
4cl Strega Liqueur
1.5cl Imperial Gold vodka
1,5cl oleo saccharum Lemon & ginger
1 cl lemon juice
3cl Tuareg tea
Glass: Low tumbler
Garnish: fresh mint
Cool well apart from the serving glass, pour all the ingredients into a shaker and add the ice, then passing the ingredients from one tin to another, using the throwing technique. Once the right dilution/cooling ratio is reached, serve in a glass with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
In the film Made – Two Cheaters in New York directed by Jon Favreau and starring the same director and Vince Vaughn, Vaughn’s character orders a Strega Liqueur in an Italian restaurant, being answered by P. Diddy, the chief character of the gang: ” You who take the witch after midnight? You have no class! “. The waiter agrees with the boss in saying that the Strega is an aperitif, but both are wrong because today, like other “vintage” liqueurs, Strega is an integral part of modern mixology and can be drunk at any time in a drink well balanced, like this “Witch punch”, combined with Imperial Gold vodka – the best selling premium vodka in Russia.
(inspired by the film “The Witches of Eastwick”, by George Miller, 1987)
BARMAN: Paolo Manna, bar manager of the Donna Romita – Alcohol & Cuisine of Naples
5 cl VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
2 cl Strega Liqueur
2 cl Pastis
1.5 cl homemade sugar syrup
1.5 cl lemon juice
Glass: double Martini cup
Garnish: lemon zest
The cocktail is performed with the shake & double strain technique. Cool the cup with ice, pour all the ingredients into the shaker and shake for a few seconds. Remove the ice from the cup and filter the liquid. Garnish with lemon zest.
Charmed is freely inspired by the film The Witches of Eastwick, based on the novel of the same name by John Updike (1984). The three protagonist witches, a sweetened version of the janare of Benevento, the city of production of the Liquore Strega, drink gin to find the courage to give free rein to their innermost desire, namely to find a husband. But how does the saying say? Attentive to what you want, it could come true and in fact an eccentric billionaire arrives in the city whose three women are fascinated, without knowing that in reality he is a demon. The combination of VII Hills Italian Dry Gin and Strega liqueur, both containing spices and herbs, refers to the potions, often medicinal, in which the witches-janare were said to be experts, who, still today, enchant and seduce the popular imagination.
DRINK: THE GYPSY
(inspired by the movie “They called him Jeeg Robot”, by Gabriele Mainetti, 2016)
BARMAN: Giovanni Maffeo of the Enough of Lecce
4 cl VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
2 cl Strega Liqueur
1,5 cl vincotto vinegar
1 cl fresh lime juice
3 celery dash bits
Gosling’s Ginger beer
Glass: tall tumbler
Garnish: a lime wedge
With the shake & strain technique, pour all the ingredients, excluding the ginger beer, into the shaker and shake vigorously. Strain everything into a cooled high tumbler glass. Fill the glass with ice and add Gosling’s Ginger Beer. Garnish with a lime wedge.
The inspiration comes from “They called him Jeeg Robot”, in particular from the antagonist-revelation of the film, from which the name of the drink derives, “The Gypsy”, the “suffering bastard”. The use of VII Hills Italian Dry Gin is due to the fact that the story is set in the Seven Roman Hills. Tying it to the Liquore Strega, evergreen like music at the head of the character. Instead of cordial lime, vin cotto vinegar (the word ‘cotto’ itself refers to a scene from the film). Then the celery bitter, to enhance one of the main botanicals of the VII Hills Italian Dry Gin, and then close with Gosling’s Ginger Beer and a lime wedge. A cool drink, like the breath of air brought by the film on the Italian scene.
DRINK: THE FOILED ONE
(inspired by the film “Johnny Stecchino”, by Roberto Benigni, 1991)
BARMAN: Luca Romano, from the 1000 Misture of Casarano (Lecce), former finalist of the Strega Mixology Prize 2019
3 cl Strega Liqueur
3 cl red vermouth
3 cl coffee infused brandy
3 coffee banana drop bitters
Glass: Old Fashioned low
Garnish: banana chips
Pour all the ingredients into a previously cooled Old Fashioned glass. Use ice cubes, apply a light stretch and decorate with banana chips.
The drink is inspired in particular by the protagonist of Roberto Benigni’s film, which he himself plays, Dante, who has the habit of stealing bananas (hence the coffee banana bitter, ingredient of the drink). Create a nervous “tic” that recalls an excess of coffee (Brandy infused with coffee). Then, he is bewitched (Liquore Strega) by a beautiful woman with red lips (red vermouth) who deceives him for the interests of her and her mafia husband.
DRINK: HERE YOU DON’T DIE
(inspired by the film “Welcome to the South”, by Luca Miniero, 2010)
BARMAN: Dario Tortorella, bartender of the Antiquarian of Naples
5cl VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
3cl Limoncello Pallini
1,5cl Strega Liqueur
2cl fresh lemon juice
4 dash Orange bitters
Glass: 25cl champagne glass
Garnish: burnt fennel seeds
Pour all the ingredients into a boston shaker with some fennel seeds and proceed with a vigorous shakered, then filter everything with a strainer and a colander in a champagne glass with an ice cube and garnish with some burnt fennel seeds.
The inspiration comes from this simple film that speaks of Southern hospitality, for a cocktail that is also simple, fragrant and that with its ingredients tells the South in its own way. All thanks to three high quality ingredients: limoncello, mentioned several times in the film, made by Pallini with lemons from the Amalfi coast, the Benevento liqueur Strega and a 100% Italian distillate such as VII Hills Italian Dry Gin. Finally, the fennel to perfume everything and give home air. And, as King Gioacchino Murat said from the Belvedere of San Costabile, in the presence of so much beauty and health: HERE YOU DON’T DIE!
(inspired by the film “An American in Rome”, by Steno, 1954)
BARMAN: Alessio Zaccardo, barman of the Drink Kong in Rome
4 cl VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
1.5 cl Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
1,5 cl Strega Liqueur
1,5 cl cordial of homemade citrus
1.5 cl lime acid
1 cl liquid sugar
Glass: Nick & Nora
With the stir & strain technique, pour all the ingredients into the previously cooled mixing glass, fill with ice until filling and mix for a few seconds with a barspoon. Pour the mixed contents into the Nick & Nora glass with a strainer, without garnish.
The inspiration comes from the film An American in Rome, in particular from the iconic image of Alberto Sordi in front of the plate of spaghetti. In the film Nando is seen eating a plate of leftovers from the previous meal, which inspires the thought of the tradition of reuse. In this context, here is the use of the homemade citrus cordial made at the same Drink Kong, recycling the scraps of lime, lemons and pink grapefruits, according to the mindful policy of the Roman cocktail bar. The connection between America and Italy is made explicit by mixing the Knob Creek Rye Whiskey produced in high quality small batch, with the gin from the Roman botanicals VII Hills Italian Dry Gin and an Italian excellence such as the Benevento’s Strega Liqueur.
DRINK: THE GOOD, THE UGLY, THE BAD
(inspired by the film ‘The Good, the Ugly and the Bad’, by Sergio Leone, 1966)
BARMAN: Giovanni Torre, bar manager and owner of the Circus Cocktail Bar in Catania
6 cl VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
2 cl Strega Liqueur
3 hop drop bitters
Glass: vintage seventies cup
Garnish: organic saffron threads
With the Stir and Strain technique, pour and mix all the ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice to give the right dilution and make sure that the drink reaches the right temperature. Pour into a seventies vintage cup with an ice chunk flavored with coconut oil and saffron and garnish with 100% bio saffron filaments produced in Sicily.
Inspired by Sergio Leone’s monumental film, a drink with a strong character, with the VII Hills Italian Dry Gin playing the ‘good’ part, the Liquore Strega the ‘bad’ part and a hop bitter with a very bitter taste that does not can only have the part of the ‘ugly’.
DRINK: BLACK DOG
(inspired by ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Mastiff’, by Sidney Lanfield, 1939)
BARMAN: Antonio De Meo, bar manager of the Liòn Restaurant in Rome
30 ml Strega Liqueur
30 ml Laphroaig 10yo infused with charcoal
25 ml lemon juice
5 ml vanilla syrup
red-tinted EVO oil
Glass: Martini cup
Garnish: Red tinted oil
Pour all the ingredients into the shaker and shake vigorously. Then, strain through strainer and pass through tight mesh into a martini glass. Finally, decorate with 2 drops of EVO oil, dyed red.
For this cocktail I was inspired by the legend of the Black Dog, a creature of the recurring night in the folklore of the United Kingdom and usually a harbinger of misfortune, protagonist of the film Sherlock Holmes and the mastiff of Baskerville played by the great Basil Rathbone and taken from the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. According to the descriptions, these are supernatural beings in the shape of large dogs with completely black fur that move by making long leaps on the country paths. The eyes, which turn red in the dark, indicate the ferocity of the beast and in the cocktail they are represented by drops of red oil in stark contrast to the completely black color of the drink, based on Laphroaig Scottish peated whiskey and Saffron liqueur, based on saffron . Usually they are seen as symbols of bad luck, but they have inspired many cinematographic and literary works including the magic saga of Harry Potter.
DRINK: THE WITCH’S POTION
(inspired by Rob Zombie’s ‘The Salem Witches’, 2012)
BARMAN: Manuel Boncompagni, bartender of the La Belle Epoque Cocktail Bar in Frascati, Rome
5 cl Jim Beam bourbon
3 cl lemon juice
1.5 cl 2: 1 sugar syrup
Float 1 cl Strega liqueur infused with karkadè
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: orange zest and karkadè flower
With the shake & strain technique, shake all the ingredients and pour them into the Old Fashioned glass with an ice chunk.
The inspiration for the drink comes from a horror film set in our day that recalls the greatest persecution of witches, which began in 1647 and ended in 1688, with the 1692 trial in Massachusetts, from which the legend of the Witches of Salem. Hence the idea of using a bourbon like the legendary Jim Beam and mixing it with an Italian liqueur as only the Witch knows, in order to reconnect American history with Italian history. Indeed, the legend of the witch from Benevento comes from Italy, namely the Janara, famous for the preparation of a magical ointment that allowed it to become light and to be able to fly. Like to think that on Halloween night this drink can give those who drink it powers such as magic ointment, so as to be able to annoy everyone all night long.
We recommend that you always drink alcohol in moderation and above all, do not drive after doing it.
Texts © Carlo Dutto for iBESTmag, Images courtesy Carlo Dutto – Forbidden Reproduction