It is interesting how perception of a product or brand can change dramatically in different markets or cultures. A mainstream Amaro in Italy can become a niche bartender handshake in the USA. A mass market Sake (made in the USA) can be seen as a refined drink in Italy. The opposite of this phenomenon is also very much true. There are a number of Belgian beer producers that are barely known oddities in the land of Beer, but in the Anglo-American market they are the most prized possessions. Distribution can unknowingly be the largest factor in this subject.
Last year at Pitti Taste in Florence, an Italian friend noted that none of these awesome Italian food brands were really known in Italy, and neither were they trying to be. A high end Panettone producer will have to fight an extreme uphill battle to sell in an oversaturated market, but in the trendy restaurants of Soho they may have an easier sale. Likewise the Brooks Brothers and Levis flagship stores in Bologna are genuinely cool places with the later providing Vice & Vogue reads and custom tailoring of vintage denim is done on site.
Cappelletti Aperitivo is available in many Natural Wine shops and Craft Cocktail bars. These being really the only place to find any Aperitivo product in the USA. Being a frequenter of places such as these, it was to my surprise that it was simply non-existent once I arrived in Italy. After almost a year of living in Italy I had given up on finding it.
On a visit to the famous Ferrari, the producer of Trento DOC traditional method sparkling wine appellation, my friend and I stopped for lunch and took a quick stroll around the cute city of Trento. I yelled “STOP!”.
The window display of a Pharmacy had all these Botanical Grappas. It was a living relic of the time when Amaro and other flavoured beverages were procured at the Pharmacy. I entered and walked past the Tylenol and blood pressure machines, and asked about the alcoholic bottles. Turned out to be their line.
The weirdly shaped bottle that exists in the States goes under the name Specialino, but is not available for retail in Italy. Rather a much more mundane and oddly labeled GINO in an accordingly functional liter upright bottle.
They also have a wide range of Amari ranging from a touch of sweet to oh-so-bitter that it might just be a diuretic(it is sold in a pharmacy after all!).
Of all their products the Elisir Novasalus is maybe the most circulated abroad and hence, well known. This may be partly due to it being a wine based Amaro and I am inclined to assume it has been able to be imported via a wine license, garnished only the lower wine taxes and even ending up being sold in wine-only retail shops! Remember that note on distribution.
In my opinion this is a shame since it is a product that is often heralded for bitter chasing bartenders who guzzle Underberg or Amaro fans keen on destroying any whiskey drinkers notion that Amaro is some sweet liquor. A shame since the company produces a larger range of well balanced Amari.
The Cappelletti Aperitivo is super tasty and really delightful. It has a light fruitiness to it without conjuring up any specific citrus or plant. It has a brightness to it that I like to think comes from the wine base, and channeling the alpine wine tenacity I love.