` Extra Virgin Cocktails

Food & Cooking

Extra Virgin Cocktails

Jul. 8, 2013
By Luciana Squadrilli

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Sum­mer has finally come and few things are bet­ter than enjoy­ing warm Ital­ian nights sip­ping a well-made cock­tail some­where nice, pos­si­bly in the coun­try­side where the air is cooler, sur­rounded by trees and flow­ers. But, would you ever con­sider adding a lit­tle olive oil to your Mojito or Frozen Daiquiri?

It’s not some­thing com­pletely new: a few years ago, Mas­simo D’Ad­dezio (the award-win­ning bar­tender of Rome’s Stravin­skij Bar at the lux­ury Hotel de Russie), cre­ated a cou­ple of oil” cock­tails; he repli­cated some of the most iconic long drinks and cock­tails with a hint of extra vir­gin olive oil for the regional con­sor­tium Uliveti del Lazio. The clas­sic Bloody Mary was enriched with fresh dat­terino tomato, green pep­pers and extra vir­gin olive oil. This was con­sid­ered some sort of provo­ca­tion, as olive oil is not seen as com­mon pair­ing with alco­hol: in prac­tice, D’Addezio had bro­ken the clas­sic bev­er­age rules.

But he is not the only per­son to con­sider extra vir­gin an inter­est­ing – if dar­ing – ingre­di­ent for orig­i­nal and intrigu­ing cock­tails.

To cel­e­brate its 10th Anniver­sary, Pan­dolea – the Ital­ian Women Olive Oil Pro­duc­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion – orga­nized a num­ber of events and meet­ings. These included an inter­est­ing con­fer­ence and an olive oil cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the Hos­pi­tal­ity Train­ing Insti­tutes’ stu­dents. They also asked the young and bril­liant female bar­tender Valentina Bertello (cur­rently work­ing at Guer­rini dal 1958 winebar in Rome) to cre­ate two brand new cock­tails using the mem­bers’ olive oils.


Both were imag­i­na­tive and fan­tas­tic drinks: the first one was a refresh­ing blend of dark Rum, fresh mint, lime and pineap­ple juice, crushed car­damom seeds and a great extra vir­gin from Sicily that was sprayed on the glass just at the moment of serv­ing. The sec­ond one was made by Gin, Cam­pari, Crème de Cas­sis, lemon and pink grape­fruit juice, sage and a more del­i­cate extra vir­gin from Abruzzo region.

Mean­while, researchers at Peru­gia’s Uni­ver­sity Food Sci­ence Depart­ment at the Fac­ulty of Agri­cul­ture, led by prof. Mau­r­izio Servili, are study­ing new ways to exploit the com­po­nents of olive oil. They may be able to find the way to iso­late and extract only the polyphe­nol antiox­i­dants to cre­ate com­pletely nat­ural bit­ters to add to drinks or non-alco­holic bit­ter aper­i­tifs and sodas. They are cur­rently look­ing for an enlight­ened entre­pre­neur who would want to spon­sor the project.

Last year, Maria Provenza – a young female olive oil pro­ducer from Bat­ti­paglia (in the Cam­pa­nia region, not far the beau­ti­ful Costiera and Sor­rento) launched the first Ital­ian Bar à Huile. The launch was to cel­e­brate the com­plete ren­o­va­tion of her oil mill Tor­retta, which she inher­ited from her fam­ily.

Olive oil based cock­tails cre­ated by the bar­man Mimmo Vil­lano were served in the mil­l’s court­yard along with small bites and typ­i­cal fried fin­ger food, under the cool­ing shade of the ancient olive trees, with old milling tools used to sup­port tables and counter-tops. Blondy Mary was the oily” ver­sion of a clas­sic Bloody Mary made using local yel­low tomato sauce by Maida and some drops of Tor­ret­ta’s excel­lent Diesis PoD Colline Saler­ni­tane extra vir­gin. Molito’ (which also means milled” in Ital­ian) was a Mediter­ranean ver­sion of the clas­sic Cuban cock­tail made by mud­dling lime pieces, fresh basil leaves instead of spearmint and a less intense extra vir­gin olive oil (Tor­retta pro­duces four dif­fer­ent labels, three of them belong to the PDO Colline Saler­ni­tane) mixed with white and dark Rhum.

This year, the Tor­ret­ta’s Bar à huile is com­ing back on July 18th, August 2nd and Sep­tem­ber 12th with a sim­i­lar for­mula and some changes. Bar­man Jan Bruno Di Gia­como is propos­ing new cock­tails like Oli Spritz, a new ver­sion of the Spritz. The typ­i­cal Ital­ian long drink orig­i­nally cre­ated in Veneto region based on sparkling white wine, a bit­ter liqueur such as Aperol and fresh orange, is mod­i­fied in Di Giacomo’s ver­sion by adding some Diesis extra vir­gin olive oil. Another inter­est­ing tip­ple pro­posed is Frozen Oil Radic­chio – fea­tur­ing dark Rum, lemon juice, sugar syrup, ice and PDO extra vir­gin olive oil with some fresh leaves of red chicory — a nice twist on a clas­sic frozen daiquiri.

Di Gia­co­mo’s cock­tails will be served along the deli­cious fin­ger food pre­pared by the young Miche­lin starred chef Vitan­to­nio Lom­bardo (Locanda Sev­erino in Caggiano, not far from Bat­ti­paglia where the oil mill is). At the Olio Taste guests will have the chance to engage in olive oil sen­sory analy­sis. There will also be a work­shop on new ways to com­mu­ni­cate and pro­mote extra vir­gin olive oil in an inno­v­a­tive way, fea­tur­ing experts and jour­nal­ists.

Maria Tor­retta says: I wanted to be able to find an out of the nor­di­nary, amus­ing way to talk about extra vir­gin olive oil, mak­ing this prod­uct to be appre­ci­ated and per­ceived with a fresh look.”

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