A glass of Tuaca Liquer being poured

Tuaca: Your New Favorite Liqueur

There are hundreds of liqueurs out there, ranging from the infamous hazelnut notes of Frangelico to wonderfully bitter artichoke-infused Cynar. However, here at DrinksWorld, we think there’s always room for one more in your booze cabinet, which leads us nicely on to: Tuaca.

Yes, if you’re not an aficionado of Italian liqueurs, it’s unlikely that you will be familiar with this almond-flavoured drink. Unless that is, you hail from Brighton on the UK’s south coast.

Unbelievably, Tuaca is associated with the seaside city of Brighton just as much as sake in Tokyo, Campari in Italy and mezcal in Mexico. But how did this flavourful liquor originating from Tuscany become such a hit in a small English seaside town?

Like all the best stories, it all started with a chance encounter…

Tuaca Comes to the UK

Tuaca

Pub landlords Sammy Berry and Poul Jensen stumbled on the amber nectar as an après ski pick-me-up during a season in Colorado in the mid 90s.  Upon returning to Brighton, the pair tried to track it down to relive their memories, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Two weeks later (and after some serious research), a case had been ordered by Jensen’s mum and was flown over from Italy for £466. And as luck would have it, they were just about to take on management of a new pub in the shape of Kemptown’s Saint James Tavern. The rest is history.

The golden liquid was a huge hit with customers, and nine bottles were consumed on its very first night! As such, the owners were forced to up their orders. The drink’s success also inspired other pubs to stock it, and by the end of the decade it was available in 95% of Brighton bars courtesy of Berry and Jensen.

With business booming, the pair were invited to meet Tuaca’s owner, Alfredo Neri, in the small Italian village Anagni where it is produced. This small village is situated to the east of Rome and is known for producing some of the finest grapes in Italy.

Production takes place in the tiny Distillerie Tuoni e Canepa, and is named after Neri’s two Italian brothers in-law Gaetano Tuoni and Giorgio Canepa.

Thanks to the sunny weather, some shots and a large dollop of enthusiasm, Berry and Jensen convinced the family that Tuaca needed a distributor in England, and because of their belief and passion in the brand, they signed to have sole rights to import to the UK.

The History of Tuaca

Tuaca

Brighton’s locals aren’t the only people to have fallen in love with the liqueur, which was originally called Tuaca Originale Italiano. Its birth can be traced back to Renaissance Florence, when it was blended in honour of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was applauded as being an enthusiastic patronage of the arts.

A sociable sort, he shared his concoction generously with the creatives who gave the period its vibrancy, including artists, Raffaello di Giovanni Santi. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Da Vinci may even have supped the elusive nectar prior to getting his visions. Lorenzo was well-liked by his subjects, and although he suffered from gout (from all the Tuaca perhaps?), this was not the official cause of his death.

The drink was rediscovered 1938 before becoming a hit with American servicemen stationed in Livorno during World War II. They were avid consumers, and similarly couldn’t find the brand at home, so in the late 1950s, an astute importer from San Francisco brought Tuaca to the US and it began its reign as a top shelf liquor in some states.

Naturally, the recipe has been tweaked across the centuries, but the base of brandy with citrus and vanilla overtones is still a delight to the taste buds.

Tuaca Blend and Recipe

Tuaca

Tuaca is delicious drunk neat with ice, but it works equally well as cocktails and the combination of citrus and vanilla can be exaggerated for refreshing summer or cosy winter blends. You may be able to detect the complex notes of dried fig, cola and butterscotch which are a great palette cleanser.

It also tastes great added to a coffee in a Tuacaccino or as an alternative Lemon Drop, with Triple Sec, sugar and a lemon wedge.

The Tuscan Mule ( with ginger beer and lime) is also one of our favourites.

Whatever your preference, Tuaca is like discovering an underground member’s club—you’ll never really know exactly what’s inside! However, the well-guarded recipe is rumoured to be a blend of Italian brandies aged between three and 10 years, with an elusive essence of Mediterranean spices, and presumably, some sort of sweetener.

The result is an amber-coloured liqueur that is delightfully complex and exceptionally smooth.

More about: Quick and Easy Cocktails.

Tuaca Today

Back in the UK, our enterprising pub owners were sadly ousted from their throne as sole exporters by a multi-million dollar deal with global spirit importer Brown-Forman who bought the brand in 2002. They later sold it to New Orleans based, Sazarec for US$544 million in 2016.

But that hasn’t stopped Brighton’s locals from continuing to enjoy the drink today, and there’s even a plaque above the door at the Saint James Tavern informing customers that the pub was the first place in the UK to stock it.

If you fancy sampling Tuaca for yourself you can purchase a bottle yourself, or head to ones of Brighton’s many pubs and order at shot of the liquid gold. Enjoy!

 

 

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