For those familiar with the bar world, Salvatore Calabrese probably doesn’t need to be introduced. But if the name doesn’t mean anything to you, I will offer you a few lines about Mr. Calabrese: The man originally comes from the Italian Amalfi Coast and is meanwhile usually referred to as “The Maestro”. He gained particular fame as the bartender of London’s Duke’s Hotel, where he mainly dealt with old cognacs. He was president of the United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild, is frequently appointed to the jury of cocktail competitions and works as a consultant for numerous spirits companies. In short: the man is a heavyweight in the cocktail world. (provided test product)*
Moreover, this Salvatore Calabrese now has launched his own liqueur in collaboration with the Dutch manufacturer De Kuyper. Sounds familiar somehow? Exactly, just recently I introduced Joerg Meyer’s Dutch Cacao, who is also a renowned bartender and has launched a (creme) liqueur in cooperation with De Kuyper. And now they’ve done it again – only this time with the Maestro.
The liqueur goes by the name of Acqua Bianca – and before I say anything about this spirit, I want to talk about the bottle, which for me is simply the epitome of Italian understatement style (it was designed by the design agency of Calbrese’s daughter Francesca). In many pictures you can only see it from the side (because that’s where the actual label is attached), which gives the impression that it’s a thin, elongated bottle with a narrow label. In reality, however, the bottle is much wider, only the label is in an unconventional position, but without any exuberant, ostentatious impact! I think that is really very stylish.
But now to the content: Acqua Bianca, the white water, is basically a liqueur based on lemons, bergamots, peppermint, roses and ambergris. A certain proximity to the continuing trend of rosolio liqueurs cannot be denied. The liqueur is supposed to be based on an old recipe from the 19th century (yes, in fact it is once again the story of the old recipe, let’s just accept it). After all, the liqueur is bottled at an abv of 24%.
Aroma: A very fine, filigree and “cool” nose is evident right from the start. This liqueur has superficially fresh peppermint characteristics, but these are not too dominant (as is very often the case with peppermint spirits). So there is no danger of a liquid glacier candy. Also immediately noticeable are fresh and spicy citrus notes, the bergamot is unmistakable, but also leaves room for the lemon. Amber is also clearly recognizable, slightly enigmatically embracing the other notes; those who are familiar with the scent of amber will recognize it immediately. A certain sweetness is of course also present, with associations of sweet cream and mild chocolate. The roses are not particularly exposed, but greet with a floral note. A beautiful aroma!
Taste: The taste of peppermint is initially surprisingly reserved. Instead, the citrus tones come out on top at first, integrated into a nice, balanced sweetness that doesn’t take up too much. Over time, the liqueur develops its fine body a little further, the peppermint comes out and convinces with a gentle freshness (again, in no way this is a menthol grenade, as is often the case with peppermint liqueurs). Fine-spicy notes solidify and deliver a subtle, yet appealingly complex taste picture.
Finish: Peppermint, amber, spicy citrus peel, medium long
Well, the magic question: What can you do with the Acqua Bianca? Basically quite a lot: The Maestro himself, for example, suggests drinking it together with Dutch Cacao at equal proportions on ice and with a mint leaf in a Ciao Bella. A really surprisingly simple and good combination! Joerg Meyer, however, drew my attention to a drink that I had perhaps not necessarily booked in the horror cabinet of cocktails, but not necessarily far away either: the Grasshopper. With cream, Dutch Cacao and Acqua Bianca, this one becomes the White Grasshopper – and has actually convinced me completely with a creamy-fine interplay. That’s why I have opted for this drink today. Apart from that, I see numerous possible uses for this drink, especially in combination with gin, which I will gladly discuss again in the future.
Recipe “White Grasshopper”:
3 cl Acqua Bianca
3 cl Dutch Cacao
3 cl cream
Preparation: Shake all ingredients vigorously on ice and strain into a pre-cooled glass.
Glass: Martini / Cocktail
Garnish: twig of mint
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.