Salvatore Calabrese launches Acqua Bianca
One of the worlds most renowned bartenders Salvatore "The Maestro" Calabrese has launched a new liqueur in collaboration with De Kuyper Royal Distillers dubbed "Acqua Bianca" today at The Donovan Bar in the Brown's Hotel in London, UK. Cocktails For You managed to get hold of the Maestro for an interview really trying to get the in's & out's of this new product as well as some of Salvatore's personal thoughts on the collaboration.
The official press release starts with 'De Kuyper Royal Distillers has partnered with leading bartender Salvatore Calabrese to launch Acqua Bianca, an aromatic new liqueur. Continuing De Kuyper’s signature collection of liqueurs made by top bartenders for bartenders worldwide, Acqua Bianca is created using all-natural ingredients such as lemon, bergamot, peppermint and rose, bound with essence of ambergris, which is more traditionally used in perfumery.
In the creation of Acqua Bianca, Calabrese – aka “The Maestro” – revived and reworked a recipe taken from an antique book dating back to the late 1800s. He uses ingredients from his native Italy such as lemons from the Amalfi Coast and bergamot from Calabria, which sit alongside citron – one of the oldest varieties of citrus – from Asia. Unusually, Calabrese also calls on ambergris, which is more commonly used to add intensity and a longer-lasting fragrance to perfume. Here, it creates more depth of flavour by binding the ingredients together."
The Cocktails For You DEEP DIVE
Salvatore opened up to us about some of the finer details with regards to this new product & especially his take on what a liqueur should be. In his mind the liqueur market spends a lot of time focussing on the palate in the mouth which he calls 'limiting'. He decided to swim in the other direction & really dive into aromatics that give us REAL depth. This lead to him demanding the use of Ambergris in his liqueur, something used more frequently in the perfume industry, as opposed to more common ingredients. In his research Ambergris was used before in different recipes going as way back as the 1700s & was at times marketed as an aphrodisiac & magic cure all. In simple terms Ambergris is waxy whale secretion also known as liquid gold that would occasionally be found on the beaches of the world. In modern times the amount of whales has reduced significantly compared to 300 years ago so you can imagine the scarcity of the ingredient & the response from the distillers in De Kuyper when he demanded such an ingredient. He mentions that 1 kilogram of Ambergris in 2020 fetches a market value of up to 10,000 euros!
Other ingredients he focussed on included Bergamot essence, the grandfather of lemons known as the Citron which is still highly cultivated in Sicily, rose petals & peppermint. He specifically mentions his focus on the middle of the palate when combining these ingredients & the mindset of 'subtlety' & 'elegance. Such strong ingredients could easily overpower each other & take centre stage. Balance in the key & we quote 'It has to be FRESH, CITRUSSY & MINTY. BUT NOT STICKY!' All of the ingredients used in Acqua Bianca are natural & essences are made from the raw ingredients that are blended to a secret recipe to make the final product.
Also to keep it in the family the bottle was designed to look like a book. This was done by Salvatore's daughter Francesca Calabrese from Five Foot Eight designers. Inspired by the very book where he found the original recipe!
All about the cocktails!
We can't talk to Salvatore Calabrese without getting into the world of cocktails as one of the leading figures in this field. Naturally he created a number of signature serves for his new Acqua Bianca aromatic liqueur in mind. What he specifically loves about Acqua Bianca is how versatile it is when mixing & shows his wisdom as a bartender of many years when he told us that naturally when we see a clear liqueur we tend to gravitate towards lighter drinks & a darker liqueur we tend to make brown drinks. This is where Acqua Bianca stands out of the crowd as it works in both directions!
He left our conversation with a quote for the ages:
"You do a Stinger with my Acqua Bianca. It blows your fucking mind" Salvatore Calabrese
40ml Cognac VSOP
20ml Acqua Bianca
Pour all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
You can find out all the details about Acqua Bianca on the official website - www.acqua-bianca.com