The holiday season is fun. Really fun. All those family get-togethers, holiday parties and office shindigs. Not to mention New Year's. And traveling. It's no wonder that after the end-of-the-year whirlwind we're all feeling a little run down, maybe are having a little trouble fitting into our clothes, and are in need of a cleanse. Which is why I think that January should be declared "Digestivo Month," honoring the libations that, throughout history, have helped aid and ease the discomforts associated with all the food and booze associated with the aforementioned festivities.
There are dozens of digestivos on the market these days, from amari to limoncello, but few are as exciting as the new wave of artisanal grappas, like those from Distilleria Marolo in Alba, Italy. Now I know what you're thinking. Grappa? That harsh liqueur made from wine pomace that tastes like gasoline? (I once had a boss who compared grappa to the worst hooch he drank during the Vietnam war. He thought the grappa I served him was worse.) But the Marolo grappas are different. Made from single varietals, incredibly fresh pomace, and with the same attention to detail you'd expect from any of the region's famed Barolo producers, the Marolo grappas are decidedly delicate and smooth where the others are in-your-face harsh. (For more on the Marolo grappas, read David Driscoll's June post "I'm Going to Make You Like Grappa."
One of the most approachable spirits in the Marolo line-up is the Marolo Liqueur made with Grappa and Camomile (375ml $25.99). Made by infusing Nebbiolo grappas with chamomile blossoms--the very same little yellow buds that make one of the most popular tisanes--this is definitely more liqueur than grappa. Slightly sweetened, the fresh floral notes meld harmoniously with the rose petal tones characteristic of Nebbiolo. The Marolo Camomile is soothing and clean. Drink it on the rocks or mix it into a cocktail with gin and honey, like the Chamomile Cocktail by Jim Meehan at PDT in New York.