Although there are many stories behind different alcohol brands, it’s the romantic ones that are the most satisfying. Sure, no matter how good the story, it will never affect the taste but when you get that mix of narrative and flavour, then it has to become a favourite.
And that combination can be found in Disaronno, a liqueur that boasts to be the first amaretto, and provides an origin story that encompasses art, beauty and secrets.
As the story goes, the year was 1525 and the artist Bernardino Luini, a former pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, was commissioned by the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie in northern Italy, to paint. a fresco of the madonna.
Like any good painter, Luini needed a muse,so he hired a young widow, an innkeeper. They soon fell in love and as a token of her love, she made him a batch of liqueur made from apricot pits steeped in brandy. Her name is lost to history, but her likeness and her amaretto recipe live on.
But it wasn’t until 1600 that Giovanni Reina (who had worked for the Lazzaroni amaretto cookie business). rediscovered the innkeeper’s old recipe. This supposedly became the recipe handed down the generations to eventually become Amaretto di Saronno Originale.
The liquid was finally commercialised in the early 1900s. The name was later shortened to Amaretto Disaronno. In 2001, the company changed its name yet again to Disaronno Originale. (It is worth noting that Lazzaroni family claim that they created amaretto, in 1851).
Where Disaronno’s “secret formula” contains apricot kernel oil with “absolute alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits” (i.e., no almonds), Lazzaroni’s version contains Amaretti di Saronno (almond cookies) infused in alcohol.
Origin stories aside, Disaranno has had great popularity as a dessert drink but it also works as a great mixer. Many people have been known to add it to their coffee.