Here’s a look at four Italian liqueurs that make a great after-dinner alternative to limoncello.
Served in many Italian restaurants, Limoncello’s sticky-sweet, tangy taste has become emblematic of Italian-style digestives. Highly refreshing in summer, and a definite treat when homemade, or at the very least artisanal, Limoncello is synonymous with the Italian summer.
Limoncello’s signature distilling process has been applied to other Italian citrus fruits and makes for some fun after-dinner tastings: Agrumello (which consists of fermented juices of tangerines, oranges and lemons), Mandarinello, made with tangerines, and Arancello which is surprisingly typical of Tuscany and not of the citrus-growing south.
There are however a number of similar fruit-based liqueurs from all over Italy, so we’re here with some tips on what to order after finishing your meal on your next vacation to the Bel Paese.
Hailing from the island of Sardinia, Mirto is liqueur distilled from the berries of the region’s indigenous myrtle shrub. It comes in two varieties, black or white, depending on the color of the berries used, the former being the most common. Bitter, and not too sweet, Mirto is usually served cold, and the perfect way to help with digesting typical Sardinian meals like proceddu (spit-roasted pork).
Licorice’s digestive properties were recognized by fathers of modern medicine, such as Galen and Hippocrates, so it’s no surprise that in its thousands of years of history, it has been distilled into a delicious post-meal liqueur. Typical of Calabria, licorice liqueur (unsurprisingly) possesses a strong licorice taste and is the perfect option to cleanse your palette after a meal laced with spicy calabrese peppers or ’nduja.
While not strictly fruit-based as it’s made from walnuts, nocino is a popular alternative to Limoncello. Hailing from Emilia, Nocino is made by macerating green walnuts and their husks with alcohol for a period of 40 to 60 days. Traditionally, the walnuts are harvested during the night of the feast of Saint John, which falls on June 24.
Typical of the Sorrento Peninsula — just like its tangier cousin Limoncello — Meloncello, or cream of melon, is a sweet creamy liqueur made from melons. Not to be confused with the Japanese alien-green Midori liqueur, Meloncello retains the color and aroma of fresh melons, with an added alcoholic kick. As well as an after-dinner digestif, Meloncello is best-enjoyed mid-afternoon on a sunny Italian summer day.