Zucca: An Oddity Worth Finding

Zucca Rabarbaro $28
If the label on this bottle of amaro looks like a throwback, it might have something to do with the company having been founded in 1845. While many towns/provinces around Italy have their own special amaro, this particular one differentiates itself by an interesting ingredient: rhizome of Chinese rhubarb. (I had to look it up, too.) Who knows what all else goes into this magical mix, but it is a muffled, dark explosion of contradictions: sweet and bitter, clean and funky, smoky and fruity… Certainly a very unique liqueur that might strike you at first as weird, or even offensive, but the second sip will have you curious to the point of helplessness. At 60 proof, this not only makes a terrific substitute for vermouth in cocktails, but can be served straight if chilled, or over ice and club soda as an aperitif. At $28 per bottle, this is one of the least expensive walks on the wild side you're likely to find.

Special thanks to friend and skilled bartender Joe for the introduction to this exceptional beverage.