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Galliano L'Autentico

Galliano L'Autentico


By Robert Plotkin

Galliano L'Autentico can be found on nearly every backbar in the world. In fact, there is no more recognizable bottle in the beverage alcohol business. Of course, the reason for Galliano's universal popularity has little to do with the bottle, but rather the golden elixir it holds inside. For more than a century its singular herbal and spicy flavor has captivated those on both sides of the bar. So if you're looking for a time-tested way to add pizzazz to your cocktails, look no further than timeless Galliano. There's nothing on your backbar remotely like it.

Much of the secret behind its extraordinary character can be found in how the liqueur is made. Galliano was created in 1896 by Italian distiller Arturo Vaccari. To this day it is made in Livorno, Italy according to the original recipe, which calls for a proprietary blend of over 30 herbs, plants, roots, barks, spices and flowers sourced from throughout the Mediterranean. The all-star cast of ingredients includes anise, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, star anise, citrus, juniper, and musk yarrow.

The foundation of the liqueur is neutral alcohol distilled from European beetroot sugar. The various botanicals and aromatics—with the exception of vanilla—are apportioned between 7 infusions that collectively make 6 passes through the alembic still. The distillate is then infused with pressed vanilla and sweetened with beetroot sugar before being transported to Lucas Bols in Holland where it is rendered to 42.3% alcohol (84.6 proof) and bottled.

A quick sniff, sip and swallow are all it'll take to convince you that you're in the presence of greatness. Galliano has a lush, medium-weight body and a generous bouquet saturated with the aromas of dried herbs, anise, vanilla and lavender. Its prominent vanilla notes distinguish Galliano from other types of anise liqueurs, such as Sambuca, ouzo, anisette and Pernod. The entry is moderately spicy as it quickly expands filling the mouth with the semisweet flavors of citrus, cinnamon, vanilla, sarsaparilla and anise. The lingering finish is balanced, spicy warm and thoroughly satisfying.

While Galliano is often served after dinner as a digestive, it is perhaps most famous for its role in creating the Harvey Wallbanger, a mixed drink wildly popular in the 1960s and '70s made with vodka, orange juice and a healthy float of Galliano. Today bartenders around the country are concocting creative twists on the Harvey Wallbanger by substituting the vodka in the drink for whiskey, tequila, and even beer.

Galliano is also the principle ingredient in two classic dessert drinks—the Golden Cadillac (Galliano, Crème de cacao and cream) and the Golden Dream (Galliano, Triple Sec, orange juice and cream). The fact is the liqueur enjoys unlimited creative latitude behind the bar.

Creating Galliano was made possible through the efforts and expertise of brothers Riccardo and Pietro Maraschi, who in 1880 established Maraschi & Quirici in Torino, Italy. The firm specializes in creating brilliantly flavored hydraulic infusions using all manner of herbs, flora and spices. Now more than a century later Maraschi & Quirici remains the sole suppliers of the ingredients that comprise the essence of Galliano.

Even at the spry age of 118, Galliano L'Autentico is still completely instep with contemporary tastes and a valuable player in the ongoing cocktail resurgence. Cheers!