SaloonBox Behind The Scenes: Galliano L'Autentico
Our October cocktail kit features Galliano L'Autentico. The brand has a long and interesting history. Our Q&A led to a number of interesting tidbits, a couple delicious recipes and a preview of what's to come in 2017.
What is the history behind Galliano?
Galliano’s history is long and at times quite provocative. It all started in 1896 in the Italian port town of Livorno. A businessman named Arturo Vaccari decided to create a liqueur marketed to those adventure seekers that were leaving Italy for America in pursuit of gold. Hence the golden yellow color of the liqueur. Arturo literally hired promoters that would give out Galliano in the ports to the crowds boarding California-bound ships. Galliano was meant to remind them of the beloved Italy while chasing the American dream in the gold rush. Since those days, it has close ties to both of these countries.
60 years later Galliano brand was evolving hand-in-hand with the times, taking a kitchy identity in the 60s and 70s. Those were the times the legendary Harvey Wallbanger cocktail was born, and did he make some noise! Wallbanger was the household name in every home bar with the unmistakable tall yellow bottle seen in every bar and restaurant, even in the skies – TWA airlines served Wallbangers on its transcontinental flights. All jokes aside, but in 1972 presidential election Harvey Wallbanger was the candidate that got the most write-in votes. This story actually inspired our current campaign – www.vote4wallbanger.com
Can you tell us about the production process?
To this day Galliano is still produced by the same distillery that started making it in 1896 – Fratelli Maraschi. Today, Fratelli Maraschi is known as Maraschi & Quirici, situated in a small town high in the foothills of the Italian Alps just outside of Torino. All in all, over 30 different herbs and spices are carefully sources to come together in the unique flavor of Galliano. These include juniper berries, caraway seed, cloves, cardamom, sandalwood, star anise, cinnamon, sage, thyme, mint, lavender and Madagascar vanilla to name just a few. Galliano L’Autentico is created by using 7 infusions and distillations, which makes the creation process very complex. The intricacy of the final recipe of Galliano remains a guarded secret to this day. Note that the proof of the liqueur is 84.6 – be sure to drink it responsibly to avoid banging your head against the wall!
Galliano L'Autentico has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity. Can you tell us more about that and some interesting ways you've seen it used lately?
Being so flavorful and complex, Galliano can elevate any cocktail to the next level, it’s no surprise we now see it in so many craft cocktail menus all over the US. It’s particularly applicable in tiki cocktails, as it has roots in tiki movement. The resurgence in popularity though was driven by our good friend Harvey Wallbanger. Retro culture has become trendy in TV and film, and Galliano appeared in all the productions as a staple of the 70s. If Don Draper is drinking it, it must be that good. Bartenders wanted to give Harvey Wallbanger an upgrade, so it was delightful to see variations of this simple classic drink making the menus and the news. The one that comes to mind is Hippie Wallbanger that you can try at the Whitechapel bar in San Francisco – it combines gin, Galliano, orange and lime juices and patchouli tincture.
Coming closer to the election date, I know I’ll be drinking our Election Punch (and stay optimistic)
1 part Galliano L’Autentico
1 part cranberry juice
4 parts sparkling wine
That will be my go-to recipe for holiday gatherings as well. Or to make things even simpler, mix 1.5 oz of Galliano with good quality good beer in a tall glass with ice. The botanicals in both components are complimentary to each other, plus remember that Galliano is 42.3%ABV, so this simple cocktail called Italian Root Beer will definitely make your taste buds dance.
The recipe was altered fairly recently. How is it different and what is the background behind the change?
Indeed, in the 70s the recipe of Galliano was adjusted to match the current flavor palette. Along with TV dinners, people were craving sweet drinks, more sugary than we’d like today. So Galliano’s ABV was lowered and the formula was altered. However, in 2006 we changed it back to the original 1896 recipe, hence it is called Galliano L’Autentico (“authentic”) – look for bottles that have these words on the label.
In what regions is Galliano L'Autentico used the most and why do you think that is? Are you selling more to bars or to individuals?
Because of being so closely tied with the history of the brand since the very beginning in the times of gold rush, California is the state that likes their Galliano cocktails the most. Some iconic cocktails like Harvey Wallbanger and Golden Cadillac were created in California too.
You can still go to the bar that created Golden Cadillac called Pour Red’s Bar-B-Q – it is in a town of El Dorado, about 2 hours from San Francisco. It’s definitely worth the trip, as I haven’t had a Cadillac as good as the one Pour Red’s makes. It comes with the special vibes too, since it’s an old gold mining town, it even hosted world gold panning competition this year (yes, it’s a thing!). People come to Pour Red’s for Galliano drinks by bikes, hourses, cars – it has become a place of pilgrimage like that. They are our current Galliano world champion – the bar that pours the most Galliano in the world!
In terms of bars versus individuals, the split is pretty even, 50/50. We are lucky to have a base of loyal fans of the brand in the US, who share their Galliano stories with us on Facebook.
What's next for Galliano? Are there any new markets, promotions or products in the works you can talk about?
We are getting ready to welcome a new member of the Galliano famiglia come spring 2017! Called Galliano L’Aperitivo – a classic Italian bitter liqueur.
The legendary Italian ‘Aperitivo’ tradition is rapidly growing in popularity here. Aperitivo is a simple concept of a very social and functional way of meeting up with friends for some bites and drinks after work, before dinner. Bittersweet Italian liqueurs (Amari) are an essential part of Aperitivo, perfect thirst quenchers stimulating appetite, so get ready for Galliano L’Aperitivo to become your best friend for those after work happy hours next summer!