Amaro Obsession

SILVIO COLA – AMARISCHIA S.P.A.

Dr. Silvio Cola, could you give us some historical information about Amarischia Company?

Amarischia S.p.A. is a historic Campania company specialized in the food sector owned by the Cola family. For three generations, since 1920 the company has started producing liqueurs. The Nocillo, the Anisetta, the China were just some of the specialties that were produced in their laboratory and sold throughout the Campania region. Later in 1969, Amarischia was born, the Amaro from the Ischian origins, whose brand grows up to reach the nice figure of one million bottles a year sold only on the territory of Campania. Today the company is synonymous with high quality and prestige in the restricted elite of Italian liqueurs. In 1975 the Cola family started a new business in the confetti sector, also produced this typical of the Vesuvian area where there is an ancient tradition. A few years later, this activity merged into the Amarischia company, where still today a wide range of confetti is processed using modern systems but without losing the handicraft connotation thanks to the skill of its master confectioners. The company has kept its historical sites of Ischia and Ottaviano, the latter immersed in the national park of Vesuvius. For some years now the Amarischia has founded the company Indaco S.p.A. (chewing-gum production and sweets) has transferred its production activities for logistical reasons in the most convenient industrial area of Pascarola in a 15,000 square meter factory where today all the group's productions are concentrated and around eighty working units. In short, Amarischia over the years as a small company with a territorial character has turned into a real industry with a strong presence on international markets and with multiple productions both under its own brand and private brand.

The Ischitian Amaro recipe was developed by a Franciscan monk from the island in the eighteenth century. After the French Revolution, the government that controlled the Kingdom of Naples ordered the dissolution of the conventual orders forcing the friars and monks to the diaspora: the knowledge of infusion thus emerges from the religious walls and becomes popular dominion, an asset for the Italian liqueur tradition, but a misfortune for the historic recipe of Ischian Amaro that was lost in this period. Can you tell us how the Cola Family has finally come into possession of the original recipe?

Of course ... but first of all, we must remember that Ischia has always been called the Green Island thanks to its luxuriant Nature. In this context, during the second half of the eighteenth century, the recipe of Ischian Amaro d'Erbe was born thanks to a Franciscan monk. The Friars Minor, in fact, present on the island since 1225, were skilled liquorists and the Amaro d'Erbe was one of their specialities. The same friars who, by order of the French government that controlled the kingdom of Naples at the time, were forced to leave their convent, thus losing track of their renowned specialities. And here comes the stroke of luck, my father Arcangelo, belonging to the second generation of Vesuvian liqueurists, always fascinated by the extraordinary history of the friars of Ischia, their ability to grapple with alembics and herbal infusions, manages to get hold of a recipe obtained with herbs actually available in the region. It is the ancient formulation of the bitter liqueur of an Ischian monk, the authentic one, the original handed down over the years without undergoing changes. It is the '60s and my father is passionately dedicated to the popularization of this recipe from which it derives an Amaro that preserves the aromas and flavours of the island combining the astringent aftertaste, bitter, typical of herbal Amari, with an amiable touch that does not mind even the most demanding palates. At that moment was born Amarischia l'Amaro Quanto Basta! The great success of the product pushed my father to give this name not only to the liqueur but also to the same company that he founded with the aim of producing and distributing the extraordinary Amaro. A choice that is a clear sign of how much this Amaro has conquered the soul of all the components of our company that guarantee the originality of the recipe over the years. Meanwhile, the product, which became an icon of the island of Ischia, was brought to the mainland and soon became the only original Amaro from Campania. On the other hand, the Amarischia today goes perfectly with all the dishes of our local culinary tradition: an indissoluble marriage!

The company Amarischia S.P.A. is very linked to the tradition of its land: Campania. Can you describe how much the territory influences your production?

The territory affects at least 90% our production if you think that in our catalog most of the liquor products we offer, are all made with infusions that are made with local products. Among the fruit, liqueurs stand out the liqueur "Melannurca", obtained with the homonymous apples from Caserta, or the "Fennel" from Campania, rather than the "Limoncello" with the lemons of Ischia, the "Pomegranate" to the "Fragolino". Yes, the "Fragolino" liqueur, obtained with strawberries from the city of Parete, home of the "Sabrina" strawberry and not surprisingly called the strawberry city. Even our Amari are all territorial, the Amaro Amarischia is composed of fourteen aromatic herbs from the Campania region such as Genziana, Aloe Vera and Calamo. We made a Rucola Ischitana Amaro or the Amaro Piperna with Wild Thyme herbs also this typical of the island of Ischia. Let's not forget the Liquorice liqueur, obtained with 16% of Calabrian liquorice paste: a small reference to the tradition of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. So how do you see everything we produce tends to enhance the unmistakable flavours and smells of our territory, so much so that recently the title of "Excellence" of the Campanian territory has been attributed to the Amarischia.

Dr. Silvio Cola, could you tell us which Campania botanical and herbal elements are used in the establishment for the realization of Amarischia?

As I said before, almost all of our liqueurs are made with herbal extracts from the Campania region, then processed in infusion by our master liquorists among the best in Campania.

Amarischia bottles are distributed in more than thirty countries. Where is your flagship product getting more positive feedback?

Surely the key role is played by the European countries with a strong presence in Germany. Every year Ischia is invaded by tourists from all over the world and our liqueurs are exported from the island as a typical product of the place.

A "piece of Ischia" to take with him at the end of the holidays and to let relatives and friends try. On the other hand, we receive almost daily requests for products from tourists who want to know where to buy the product in their countries.Your company Amarischia S.P.A., also includes Amarucola and Amapiperna in its Amaro products portfolio. Could you describe how these two products were born?

Sure! The Rucola Amaro is an almost exclusive liqueur whose main ingredient is precisely the Ischitana rocket very consumed on the Island. Rucola is indicated after meals thanks to its formidable digestive properties and has a very pleasant taste so much that in Campania it is taking the place of traditional Amari. Amapiperna is also a typical Ischian Amaro. The characterizing ingredient is the wild thyme that the Ischitans have always called Piperna and that they use in the preparation of the classic Rabbit all'Ischitana. It is a liquored aromatic profile precise ideal for those who love strong and decisive tastes. Because of this characteristic, it is considered an excellent ingredient for cocktails.

By the way, how is the relationship between Amarischia S.P.A. and the bartenders?

I would say that we have an excellent relationship that we are trying to grow day by day. On our official Youtube channel, we have videos where expert bartenders from Campania produce beautiful cocktails with our Amaro Amarischia and our Melograno liqueur.

In the U.S.A. Amaro-Mania has taken hold: the latest trend in mixing that sees an Amaro as the main ingredient in the recipes of cocktails which are more popular in this period. What do you think of the approach by bartenders to the Amaro World and how do you see yours Amao products positioned in the nearest future, consumed neat as aperitifs or digestives or as important ingredients in mixing recipes?

I think that the road taken is the right one, the Amaro itself is a mix of aromas, it can really be a springboard for this type of product that represents a further facet of Italian cuisine. The Amaro creates the right mix between past and future. Blended well thanks to the fantasy of bartenders can be a daily surprise of taste and local flavours.

Martina Proietti

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