Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Homemade Nocino

Photo by Stuart Mullenberg
A feast day celebrating the birth of John the Baptist is not the only Italian tradition to take place on June 24—every year on San Giovanni, Italians gather unripe, green walnuts to infuse in a neutral spirit for homemade nocino. Delicately nutty and subtly spiced, this traditional liqueur is perfect paired after a rich meal with custard-based desserts like crème caramel. And while every recipe varies slightly—some use more sugar, others introduce additional spices like cloves and cardamom—Erik Ellestad, San Francisco bartender and keeper of the cocktail blog underhill-lounge.com, encourages experimenting with flavors at different stages to find the combination of spice and sweetness that suites your tastes. You can also experiment with resting times, as nocino mellows with age. Ellestad flavors the syrup used to sweeten the liqueur with cinnamon and citrus, allowing the flavor of the green walnuts to shine. Click here for the recipe, and try it in this delicately nuanced Matrimony Cocktail, which blends nocino with genever and dry vermouth.