The term amaro covers a wide range of digestive liqueurs, from the sweet and unctuous to the lean and bright. Lucano falls perfectly in the middle – incredibly balanced with hints of orange peel and caramel sweetness with an herbaceous bitter note that is the hallmark of this Italian digestivo. Try this after a satisfying meal and you’ll know why it is the first Amaro we turn to!
From the sun-drenched town of Pisticci, high in southern Italy's Basilicata province (think of the talus, or "ankle joint" of the Italian boot), comes this sumptuous yet delicate amaro, or bitter digestif. Basilicata was the name invented by Mussolini for this impoverished, high-altitude province that the Greeks and Romans once referred to as Lucania. In 1894, in the back of his pastry shop in this sleepy hilltop town, chef Pascuale Vena created this [still-secret] recipe of a sweet base wine macerated with 30 different herbs and spices. The liqueur quickly gained popularity locally, and by the turn of the century was popular even in Milan, where Vena was the official supplier to Italy's royal House of Savoy. By the 1960s, Vena's son was marketing the drink nationally, and it became a popular nightcap for workaday Italians as they left their local bar. This drink is delightful on its own with a twist of orange peel, or, as a nod to its origins in a sweets shop, drizzled over gelato.