The Anise-Laced La Dolce Vita Hits a Sweet Spot
Pix and Story :: Anastacia Uriegas
“La Dolce Vita” translates to “the sweet life” and for our purposes, refers to Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic film AND anisette, the sweet liqueur in our namesake cocktail. A little booze-education first: Anisette refers to anise-flavored liqueurs, most of which are popular in Mediterranean and surrounding countries. Each has their own version of the strongly flavored spirit; Italy has sambuca, Spain has anís, Turkey has raki, France has pastis, Greece has ouzo, in the Middle East they drink arak, and in Central and Latin American countries it’s called aguardiente. (And, although the flavor profile of an anisette is similar to absinthe, it lacks green anise, wormwood and the alcohol proof is much lower.)
This brings us back to the film La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini’s cinematic masterpiece. The popularity of the film made Rome’s Via Veneto road famous and along with it, the bars which lined the street slinging sambuca. The bartenders served the liqueur in espresso or straight “a la mosca” or “with the fly” which included a single coffee bean. For our La Dolce Vita cocktail, we are going to channel Italian drama by using Meletti Anisette--which has been popular in Italy since it’s inception in 1870--and the very new Italicus, a bergamot liqueur that comes in a chic, sea glass-blue bottle worthy of any home bar.
Start by infusing a tablespoon of loose Earl Grey tea (or one tea bag) into the whiskey for 15 minutes. (Earl Grey is black tea flavored with citrus-y and floral bergamot rind oil. We used Big Heart Tea Co.’s Edith Grey which includes rose petals and tiny rosebuds!) After steeping, straining out the solids and combine the whiskey, Meletti, Italicus, and bitters in your stirrer. Stir until the very, very cold and strain into your rocks glass. Express the oil from an orange peel, drop into drink, and enjoy the sweet life.
Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto! (Translation: Eat well, laugh often, love much)
2 oz Rye Whiskey
½ oz Meletti Anisette
½ oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 tbsp Loose Earl Grey Tea (or 1 tea bag)
Garnish: Orange Peel
Rocks or Old Fashioned Glass
Orange peel for garnish
1. Infuse rye whiskey with tea for 15 minutes, strain.
2. Combine whiskey, Meletti, Italicus, and bitters to mixing glass.
3. Add ice and stir until well chilled.
4. Strain into glass, squeeze orange peel, rind out, to express oil and add to glass.