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Extra Virgin Cocktails

Jul. 8, 2013
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.

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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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