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The Corretto Way to Drink Grappa

In my grappa column today, I mention the Italian tradition of caffe corretto, or coffee "corrected" with a splash of liquor (usually grappa), often as a morning eye-opener. So prevalent is this practice, in fact, that it's listed on the official government price list in every cafe: "Caffe" is listed at 1 euro, and "Caffe Corretto" at 1.80 euros.

That isn't the only way Italians take grappa with their coffee. There is also an after-dinner tradition in the Veneto called the "rasentin" -- literally "rinsing" the leftover dregs and foam in your just-finished coffee cup with a little grappa. The tiny bit of coffee accentuates the grappa in a pleasant way, and it's a nice way to finish a big meal. That's the thing about grappa: Though we've been experimenting with it in cocktails, it's most widely used a digestivo. And a good grappa should clean your palate after you drink it.

Among my favorites for after dinner are Nardini's Aquavite (its standard 100-proof grappa) or its 5-year-aged Riserva and Poli's Sarpa Barrique (a barrel-aged blend of merlot and cabernet pomace) and Po' di Poli Morbida (made solely with Moscato grape pomace).

While in the Veneto, I also tasted a very nice grappa made solely from prosecco grapes from Beniamino Maschio. "There is not one grappa, but many grappas," says distiller Jacopo Poli. "It's an acquired taste, but once you get get used to grappa, you don't go back to a boring spirit."

I'm including one more recipe here (after the jump) that plays on the coffee-and-grappa pairing. It's called the Espresso Cocktail, developed by famed mixologist Dale DeGroff. In keeping with grappa tradition, this probably is best enjoyed as after-dinner drink, or perhaps with dessert.

-- Jason Wilson

Espresso Cocktail
1 serving

1 1/2 ounces grappa
3/4 ounce coffee liqueur, such as Patron XO or Tia Maria
1 ounce chilled espresso coffee
Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the grappa, coffee liqueur and chilled espresso. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, then strain into a cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Per serving: 256 calories, 0 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 33 g sugar

By The Food Section  |  May 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Spirits  | Tags: Jason Wilson, grappa  
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Next: Tales of the Testers: Scraps for the Asking

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