When we started Bartender Atlas, one of our main goals was to have people travelling, for whatever reason, to whatever far reaches of the globe to hear stories. It might seem like a bit of a trope but we think that any bartender worth their salt (or acid or sweetness) should be able to tell you a story. About the city you are in or the history of the cocktail you are drinking. They should certainly know about the bottles on their back bar and how they came to be. The Luxardo family of spirits and liqueurs has a borderline unbelievable story.
In the 1820s the Luxardo family owned and operated a distillery in a town called Zara (now called Zadar, in Croatia)) on the coast of the Adriatic sea. At this point in time distilleries were not the monolithic industrial structures we know them to be today. The distillery was an extension of their orchard and farm. They grew cherries, among other things, for about 120 years.
Due to the devastation that the farm suffered during World War II, Giorgio Luxardo left his hometown and his orchard. He was the last remaining member of his immediate family so he decided to figuratively and literally uproot his life and move to Torreglia in Italy. With a sapling from his family’s orchard, he began a new life, orchard and distillery in 1947 and this is where all Luxardo products come from today.
Fast forward six generations and the face of Luxardo is still someone with that name. Matteo Luxardo travels the world meeting bartenders and enthusiasts to talk about the Luxardo family of spirits and liqueurs. He didn’t just walk into this job either, his father made him work for it. He spent time as a sales person and as a bartender before getting the job he has now with the business.
There is a lot of ground to cover when you have this many expressions that are distributed all over the world. The Luxardo Global Ambassador, Mr. G (seriously), travels the world teaching bartenders about the most effective ways to use the Luxardo family of liqueurs. His cocktail classes are full of dry British wit infused with knowledge about classic and modern cocktails.
Luxardo products are a staple in most bars and we love them for their versatility. Two simple and easy cocktails that you can make with them are a spritz and an Amaretto Sour.
The spritz is one of the easiest drinks you can make yourself. Three ingredients is all it takes. The most important is Luxardo Aperitivo. Then just add some Prosecco and some soda water. If you want to dress up your spritz, just add a slice of grapefruit or orange.
The Amaretto Sour, after spending years being maligned, by “mix” from a gun, has come back into prominence. We make this drink using Luxardo Amaretto, a little Bourbon, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup (you could add egg whites as well, if that’s your thing). Shake all that together with some ice and away you go.
Both Matteo Luxardo and Mr G will be travelling to Canada in the next few weeks and there are a handful of events where you can meet these two walking liqueur encyclopedias. Furthermore, if you are a bartender in Alberta or Ontario, you have a chance to win a trip to Berlin Bar Convent – hello!
On Monday June 4th at The Broadview Hotel in Toronto there will be a Luxardo Cocktail Competition. This is an Industry only affair from 5:30-7:30pm. Prospective competitors should reach out to their local Luxardo (Lifford) representatives to throw their name in the hat to compete. If you don’t feel like competing, but want to see what your peers come up with using these liquid treasures, you can attend and for $20 get a taste of each creation.
Not a bartender? No worries! From 7:30pm onwards that night, Mr. G will be running a Build Your Own Cocktail station and the top 2 competitors from the earlier competition will be going to head to head to see who gets that sweet trip to Berlin. It’s free to attend – you just have to register HERE.
On Tuesday June 5th there will be a Trade Only Luxardo Masterclass at Eighty 6’d in Toronto (1321 Dundas St W) from 4pm to 6pm. Here Matteo and Mr. G will lead you through the whole story of Luxardo and how to best use each of their fine products. If you’d like to attend, again, just reach out to your local Lifford Wines & Spirits representative (if you aren’t sure who that is, just message us here at Bartender Atlas and we’ll put you in touch).
After the class, Eighty 6’d will open to the public for a rare opportunity to have cocktails prepared for you by Mr G with a portion of sales going to The Dandelion Initiative. Drinking for Charity is the best kind of drinking, right? This bar takeover runs from 6pm to 11pm.
Once Matteo and Mr. G are finished their two long days in Toronto, they will head to Western Canada. There will be similar competitions and classes in Banff on Wednesday, June 6th. A Tasting in Calgary on June 7th. Rounding out their Canadian tour will be a Masterclass, bar takeover and guest spot in Vancouver on Friday June 8th.
For more information about any of these events, please contact your local Lifford Wine Agents representatives. If you haven’t met them yet, just shoot us a message and we’ll do some introductions.
Post in collaboration with Lifford Wine & Sprits Inc. Please drink responsibly.