Cocchi [say it: Co-KEE] is a vino aromatizzato (=a wine that has been flavoured with herbs, spices, and drinks like a slightly sweet vermouth). Cocchi comes from Piedmont, so unsurprisingly Moscato d’Asti makes up the wine that is then spiced up with orange peel and cinchona bark (quinine) among other things. The cinchona, which provides a characteristic bitterness, is a common ingredient among this family of drinks – namely for its anti-malaria properties that were important in the late 19th century. The recipe has remained unchanged since that period, unlike other aperitif wines of this sort, like France’s controversially modernized Lillet. A bottle of Cocchi is something of an aperitif time capsule in this respect.
Cocchi comes in white and “Rosa” variations. The white one tastes a bit more citrusy while the Rosa plays up the orange peel flavours.
Cocchi is excellent chilled – maybe with a touch of soda water – and sipped on its own (and at 16.5% ABV it should be respected and not rushed). However it’s versatile so you’d do well to experiment. Try mixing it with Prosecco or lemonade for something easy or get serious with some gin to create a Rosa martini.
My Cocchi Rosa Autumn Apertivo I just concocted (and am enjoying as we speak) is pretty easy…give it a try:
- 2 oz. Cocchi Americano Rosa
- 2 oz. Grapefruit juice
- 1 oz. Cassis liqueur
- a splash of soda water
Add ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, strain into a classic-sized (=smaller) cocktail glass.