Nature’s Zest Tonic
My name is Pier Francesco Amodio, but I have always been known as Cesco, my father is Italian from the Amalfi Coast and my mother is English from London. I always wanted to have my own business. After a few early ventures in the recycling business and sports management – I turned my head to what I had been planning for a while – to bring back to the market my great-grandfather Don Vincenzo Staibano’s liqueur.
I was lucky to get a job for 16 months in a successful but small soft drinks company which gave me great insight into how a drinks business is run and then in October last year I launched Staibano Amalfi Smooth. The history of the drink goes back to the 1930’s but the brand is new. I wanted to pay homage to the era in which it was made but also create a bottle that would stand out from the rest. I commissioned an amazing young artist called Aleksandra Laika to create a label that took us back to the 20s and 30s and gave us that sense of the Italian Dolce Vita.
So goes the story behind the most stylist drink to be introduced to London since the explosion of Aperol Spritz. Where Staibano differs however is its commitment to using natural ingredients, something not so widely practiced in the liqueur business. We caught up with Cesco Amodio, Founder of Staibano to learn more about the brand’s story.
Tell us about Staibano, what is it and where did it come from? Staibano is the recipe of my great-grandfather Don Vincenzo Staibano. He lived in Amalfi and owned a large amount of lemon groves. He was a bit of a playboy; he had a lot of fun in life and was known for his parties and his liqueur. He lived la Dolce Vita up until he gambled it all away and had to sell off most of his land and he ended up living out the rest of his days in Minori, a small and beautiful village on the Amalfi Coast where the liqueur is now made. Staibano is simply a super smooth, light lemon cream liqueur which has always been drunk in our family on the rocks with fresh basil. It contains the sweet aroma of only Amalfi Lemons as we only use the rinds – so it’s a lightly sweet but not bitter drink. It’s a wonderful alternative to limoncello as it’s smoother, less alcoholic and actually tastes of lemons, not artificial flavours. Perfect for summer afternoons, or after dinner, we have also been lucky to work with one of London’s best barmen Giovanni Bruno (Blue Bar, The Berkeley Hotel) in creating some amazing cocktails.
How long has Staibano been available in UK, where else can we find it? Staibano has been available in the UK since October 2015 and this month we also launch in Italy which is very exciting. In London we supply a number of venues including Annabel’s, Harry’s Bar, George Club, Portobello Star, Made Of Dough, The Balcony at Selfridges, The Baglioni Hotel, Valentina Fine Foods and Gerry’s.
Where and how is Staibano made? Staibano is made on the Amalfi Coast in a small village called Minori. We partnered up with the biggest Amalfi Lemon farmers on the coast as they have the important I.G.P stamp (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) which ensures every lemon used to make Staibano is that of the Amalfi Lemon – some of the best in the world. The stamp shows that we have a proven high quality product in our liqueur; making us high quality without having to write “premium” on our bottle. The drink is made by blending 90% proof grain spirit with only Amalfi lemon rinds, then after a week of maceration we remove the rinds and then blend the infused spirit with semi skinned milk and a touch of sugar. We have few ingredients making us a fresh and simple liqueur but with the most amazing and fragrant taste. We have special blending techniques and our ratios are a secret. We hand label every bottle.
How should it be enjoyed? As a family we have always drunk it in a tumbler on ice with fresh basil. However due to the fact that we use a semi skinned milk with less proteins in it, it means that Staibano holds up to acidity much better than liqueurs that use fresh dairy. This makes Staibano really versatile and we have made some beautiful cocktails with Giovanni Bruno. We have also created a really nice twist on a Negroni with Campari which is beautiful.
Future projects and plans? Launching in Italy is a big step for us and we have amazing partners over there who are going to be in charge of helping us evolve the brand in its natural habitat. We also have other plans in motion involving Staibano with two Italian specialties – ice cream and chocolates – but our main focus is to make Staibano: the must have liqueur.
Taste Notes by Cesco Amodio
40ml Campari, 35ml Staibano, 20ml fresh lemon juice, 10ml sugar syrup, dash of tonic.
40ml Golden Rum, 30ml Staibano, 20ml lime juice, mint leaves, ginger beer.
Staibano Espresso Martini:
40ml Vodka, 25ml Staibano, dash of frangelico, espresso.
40ml Bourbon, 30ml Staibano, 20ml lemon juice, 10ml sugar syrup, egg white.
40ml Vodka, 30ml Staibano, 20ml lime juice, basil leaves, prosecco.
Grand Slam Fizz:
50ml Staibano, 20ml strawberry & basil syrup, 20ml lemon juice, basil leaves, black pepper, tonic water.
Staibano Gin Fizz:
45ml Gin, 30ml Staibano, 15ml lime juice, 15ml lemon juice, egg white, soda water.
Amalfi Gin & Tonic:
30ml Gin, 30ml Staibano, tonic water.
Main image by Hughie Shields
June 2nd 2016