23 June 2010

summer infusions :: an inspiration from ischia

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
10 cloves
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.



Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

This is way too cool Erin! I love arugula too - we are growing some in our garden as well this year. Will have to try this out!

erynchandler said...

such a great idea! I'm curious of what the liquer would taste like!

I have an arugula salad packed for lunch today too :-)

RamblingTart said...

I love this idea! My friends and I are always trying out new drinks to make. I love this!

Katester said...

Oooh la la . . . I'll be trying this one for sure!

Ian R. Taylor said...

Hey there, looks excitingly delicious! How did it turn out?

Rachael said...

I am curious how it turned out too!

moereese said...

I was just in Ischia and had the Rucolino. Molto bene! I am, also, curious about how well your recipe turned out as we are considering making our own. As you know, it is only sold there. Please indulge us and let us know your result? Thanks.

erin said...

Hi all! Sorry I hadn't followed up on this post until now, but since many of you were asking - the result of the Rucolino came out better than expected! After 3-4 months we finally opened the bottle and strained the liquid and tasted! It really came out well - super tasty and so close to what we'd had in Ischia. I keep saying how I need to make it again...maybe now I will!

Anna said...

Hi Erin!
I am determined to try your recipe.
You say that you opened the bottle after 3-4 months....do you mean 3-4 months after you STRAINED the liquid or from the time you started the recipe?

erin said...

Hi Anna - It was from the time we made the recipe...we tried it right away after straining, and then just put back in the original bottle but without all the pieces of things in it!