This is the second installation in the "summer infusions" series I'm writing about this season. Although I'm a bit behind in getting this next one out, it's one I'm really excited about.
During our trip to Ischia a few weeks ago we kept seeing signs for a liqueur called Rucolino. It was about the second day there and it finally caught my eye enough to think about it..."rucola" or "ruchetta" is the Italian word for arugula (rocket), and we'd seen wild arugula growing on the walkways around the Castello Aragonese the day before, as well as noticed this spicy green on the menu at a few places already. So, finally we stopped at a shop that sold it and confirmed my hopes as to what rucolino actually was...an arugula flavored liqueur. And this being my most favorite green (and top favorite foods), I was anxious to try it.
We ended up tasting a bit of it at La Cantina del Mare, a lovely wine shop in the town of Lacco Ameno. And it was pretty much all I'd hoped it would be :) It's like the traditional amaro but with a bit of peppery taste from the greens. It's a deep greenish amber color and was sweeter than I expected. Normally enjoyed as a small after (or before) dinner digestive liqueur - known to help in the digestion process of the meal you just ate (or are about to eat).
So when we got back home I knew that I wanted to try my hand at a small batch. Luckily, since we had blossoming wild arugula growing in our ever expanding garden, it was nice to be able to use the last of the plant since it's towards the end of the season. It wasn't too easy finding a recipe for this...so I've mixed a couple of the ingredients and measurements that I found in a few places. The French "Liqueur à La Sauge" (Sage Liqueur) seems quite comparative, but with obviously a different leaf. So here is my version (and I'll have to report back at the end of the year to let you know how it came out!):
2 cups organic vodka
1 cup water
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
zest of 1 organic lemon
5 sage leaves
3/4 cup wild arugula leaves + blossoms
Begin with a clean 750ml bottle. Heat water and sugar just to the point where the sugar dissolves, and chill back to room temperature. Meanwhile, drop the cloves and lemon zest into the bottle. Thoroughly wash the sage and arugula leaves. Drop all the leaves in the bottle. Pour the vodka into the bottle and follow with the cooled-down sugar water.
Cork and leave in a dark place for 2 months, shaking gently every so often. After 2 months, thoroughly strain the liquid through a cheese cloth to remove all solid pieces. Replace the liquid back into the bottle, and let sit undisturbed for 6 months. *I may cheat and try it out earlier just to see how it's doing, because the time varied in a few recipes that I saw.