Michele Mascolo, since 1996 has been creating artisanal liqueurs and grappas with raw materials found on the Amalfi Coast in his laboratory in Agerola.
By Anna Volpicelli
He traveled for many years working as a pizza chef in New York, in the kitchen of a hospital near London, and observing his customers. He would see that they were offered a bitter or liqueur after the meal that very often did not represent the culinary tradition they had shortly before experienced. “Living abroad, the type of food served was predominantly from southern Italy, with a large focus on Campania. At the end of the evening, customers were offered liqueurs that had nothing to do with our culture,” says Michele Mascolo, 56, from Agerola, co-owner, along with his brothers since 1996 L’Alambicco. This company produces artisanal liqueurs and bitters in the heart of the Monti Lattari.
Michele Mascolo and his team, courtesy of L’Alambicco
“In 1990, I returned to my village to bring back to life the peasant recipes used to make limoncello, fennel, and nocino. To offer the possibility to customers of restaurants worldwide to taste the liqueurs produced in my land,” Mascolo says. Self-taught, Mascolo learned the art of distilling by making mistakes and experimenting. “When I started, I started with traditional recipes. The idea was to do what our grandmothers did with more room to spare. So we started with limoncello and limoncello cream and gradually expanded our catalog. We learned by making mistakes, experimenting, and refining the technique daily,” he says.
Their product list includes myrtle liqueur, sciuscelle liqueur, chestnut liqueur, mastantono pear, pennate pear brandy, Agerola grappa, and Pucchiacchella bitters, a combination of 13 local herbs, including portulaca oleracea (called pucchiacchella in local dialect), which is a typical wild herb from Agerola that Mascolo grows in his garden. “It’s one of the best-selling bottles, second to limoncello,” he says. “Compared to limoncello, its preparation takes much longer, since the herbs once harvested must be dehydrated, and then there is the maceration time lasts from two to three months.
Limoncello work in progress, courtesy of L’Alambicco
Open for tastings, l’Alambicco’s bitters, liqueurs, grappas, and Eaux-de-vie are known worldwide. “We work a lot with Italy and foreign countries, including the United States, China,” he explains. The proposal is a complete journey through the flavors of the Amalfi Coast, where tradition meets innovation.
L’Alambicco, via Iovieno 54 Agerola (NA), tel. 081.873.1028, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, alambicco.it