Marolo Grappa and Mixology: In Conversation with Paul Feinstein

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In the vibrant landscape of Italian cocktails, every choice reflects a personal connection, a story waiting to be shared. For Paul Feinstein, author of “Italy Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by Italia”, the journey through Italy’s mixology was not just a quest for recipes but a heartfelt exploration of tradition and taste – an exploration that led him to Marolo, as a choice of liquor in some of his craft cocktails.

We had a chat with Mr. Feinstein to find out what he thinks about grappa and why he chose Marolo.

As an author who has delved into Italian cocktails, how would you describe the role of grappa in the Italian drinking culture, especially in cocktail making?

Grappa obviously has a long and storied tradition in Italy, but it’s a relatively new phenomenon to be using it in cocktails. I think bartenders are just now discovering the power and beauty of grappa when used as a cocktail ingredient and discovering all the possibilities. There are so many types of grappa that it’s hard to categorize it as just one thing – but as a spirit with up to 60 percent alcohol, the thing I find so intoxicating is the aromas that each unique grappa gives off. That’s a great asset in cocktail making!

What drew you to include Marolo Grappa in your recipes? Did something stand out in particular?

When I embarked on the journey of writing “Italy Cocktails,” I wanted to capture the essence of Italian drinking culture in every aspect, from ingredients to techniques. I was drawn to the rich history and dedication to tradition that Marolo embodies, and I really enjoy the product: I think with most things, the more time, attention, and care you give it, the better the results; it feels like Marolo is really taking their time to distill in ways that bring out the best in their pomace.

Marolo grappas are among the smoothest and silkiest I’ve ever had, with a pleasantly gentle finish. The fruitiness of Marolo’s Grappa di Moscato stood out in particular, both from the smell and the flavor. A wonderful addition to a cocktail, it adds these hints to drinks that require something extra on the nose.

In your experience, what are some common misconceptions people have about grappa, and how would you dispel those myths?

People tend to stereotype grappa as moonshine – this backwater, throw anything in, liquor that burns your esophagus. I think with the introduction of single varietal grappa, the level of flavor and quality have increased exponentially, especially with more advanced distillation techniques that can truly bring out the essence of the pomace.

I’d suggest Marolo to anyone who’s interested to try grappa but feels skittish about it: its gentle “bite” and pleasant silkiness is a perfect introduction to the spirit.

Are there any specific techniques or tips you would recommend for incorporating grappa into cocktails to ensure its flavors are properly highlighted and balanced?

I think less is more with grappa – it’s strong and flavorful, and a little bit goes a very long way.

And lastly – do you have a favorite cocktail featuring Marolo?

One of my favorites is “Hearts and Daggers”: it uses Marolo Milla, Liqueur of Grappa and Chamomille with strawberry syrup, Marolo Chinato, and lemon juice – it’s sugary, spicy and tart in all the right ways!

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