Grappa. Just the word sends waves of warmth down the esophagus.
Grappa is brandy distilled from pomace–the solids left over during the wine-making process; the stems and pips and skins and pressed pulp. The French call this leftover gunk marc and distill eau de vie de marc from it; the Italians call the pulp vinaccia and distill grappa from it.
The concoction called caffè corretto (“corrected coffee”) is available
all over Italy; it's a shot of espresso “corrected” with a shot of
grappa. In the mountains above Venice, though, there's a variation
called resentin, in which the sugar sludge left in the bottom of a cup of espresso is moistened with a small amount of grappa, then swirled and drunk.
in Italy will often have a couple of homemade fruit grappas, made by
taking fresh or dried fruit and nuts or proprietary combinations of
herbs and steeping them in grappa. Sip the grappa from its customary
shot glass, then eat the (extremely alcoholic) fruit. A couple of shots
of raisin, fig or apricot grappa, and a taxi may be indicated.
it's most often drunk after dinner as a digestive, it also performs
admirably when pressed into service as a loose sorbet during a long
dinner. A tiny scoop of grappa sorbet clears the stomach and allows the
banquet-goer to eat the next few courses. It's a time-tested idea that
deserves more recognition in the United States.
concept of homemade fruit grappa in bars will have to remain an Italian
one. Nearly every U.S. state prohibits such tinkering with such a moral
evil as alcohol–here in California, it's banned in the ABC Act. It's safe only if it comes hermetically sealed in an
industrially produced bottle and taxed, right?
Of course, you could make your own, which is legal in California for home consumption–grappa is easily found in larger
liquor stores, and all it takes is a clean, sealable glass jar and some
of the fruit, nuts or clean herbs of your choice. Mix them together, and
let them sit for two weeks or a month. Just sip it slowly–grappa is strong stuff.