We got a sneak preview of this event from our New Year's Eve companion at Montgomery Place, Galliano brand ambassador Agostino Perrone of London. After the great tasting notes we got from him, we've been very eager for these reformulations to reach our shores.
As we and the other cocktail nerds & barfolk of San Francisco learned at Taverna Avetine earlier this month, only the Authentico - now reformulated to its original higher proof under the guiding hand of the Lucas Bols company - and the coffee-based Ristretto are available in the U.S so far. We eagerly await their Balsamico and its use in the hands of bartenders and chefs. It is created from a must concentrate of grapes, with a reduction of raspberry, cooked sugar and acetic acid to complete the flavor.
Galliano Authentico is sweetly herbal with strong vanilla notes. It's herbal & spice ingredients include green anise seed, fresh juniper berries, achilea moscata (yarrow), lavender, sage, cardamom, cloves, artemesia (wormwood), iris, cinnamon, and vanilla. As Ago put it "It's not so much a taste, more a sensory happening."
As we began tasting the liqueur alone and in cocktails mixed by some of San Francisco's finest, he walked through the key elements of staging a cocktail: simplicity & classic combinations with a twist, travel & experiencing other cultures, matching the glassware to the drink, shape, color, garnish; all these things that lead to balance and a great experience.
The key to using the new Galliano L'Authentico is balance. Too much and one is thrown back to thoughts of children's vitamins or cough syrup. A light touch and brightening things up with fizz, from sparkling wines or soda, is a good place to start with this ingredient.
Our evening began with the Italian Spritz Punch (6 oz Galliano L'Authentico, 6 oz Aperol, 2 bottles Prosecco, built up in a bowl over a large ice block and garnished with orange & lemon wheels and raspberries) and moved on to the Maggiore Collins (1/2 oz Galliano L'Authentico, 2 oz Bols Genever, 2/3 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 oz simple syrup, built in an ice-filled glass and garnished with a lemon wedge and a cherry).
We also got to sample the Autentico Martini (1/2 oz Galliano L'Authentico, 1 1/3 oz London dry gin, 1/3 oz Tio Pepe dry sherry, 5 dashes Bitter Truth Celery Bitters, stirred and strained into a chilled glass, with a lemon peel) and the Silver Cobbler (1/2 oz fresh red apple, 4 green grapes, 1 barspoon vanilla sugar, 1/2 oz Galliano L'Authentico, 2 oz Gancia Bianco Italian fortified white wine, 1/2 oz Calvados, muddle the first three ingredients in a julep cup, fill with cracked ice, pour in other ingredients, stir and decorate with fresh fruit and mint).
Sure all those fancy new drinks are nice, but you know what? Not long after the launch, we went up to Harvey's on Castro Street and had a good old Harvey Wallbanger with the new formulation and it was just fine - a lot more interesting than an ordinary, boring Screwdriver certainly. Maybe the drinkers of the 1970s weren't completely without taste after all.
(Hot tip: if the top of that big tall bottle is purple it's a) old and b) not the restored L'Authentico formulation. Have something else.)