Liquor Cabinet

Issue No. 118 —


The back of the bottle will tell you that in 1845 Ettore Zucca created this extraordinary rabarbaro amaro liqueur that has long since been popular in the sophisticated cafes of Milan. Zucca is prepared using the roots of Chinese rhubarb together with other spices and botanicals.

Appreciated by the king Vittorio Emanuele, Zuuca was entitled as a “Supplier of the Italian Royal House”. The name Zucca is also associated with one of the most traditional and best known cafes in Milan: the Zucca in Galleria.

Zucca’s bittersweet flavor profile is somewhere between Campari and Amaro with a highlight of smokey, earthy, wood tones. So consider this when you are coming up with cocktail recipes to utilize this liqueur in. When sipping you may detect the flavors of gentian, cardamom, vanilla, smoke and a hint of citrus.

I’ve recently found it to work well with a strong, smokey mezcal. Here’s the recipe I came up with. If you’ve had any successful recipes using Zucca I’d love to hear them.


  • 1 oz reposado tequila
  • 1 oz of mezcal
  • 1/2 oz of dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz of sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz of Zucca
  • Barspoon of absinthe
  • 2 dashes of Post Prohibition Pick Me Up Bitters
  • Garnish with an orange twist

Add all ingredients in a mixing glass except the garnish. Stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Around $25 a bottle.

2 Notes on Zucca

  1. Zucca’s a tough one to get in my state, so I haven’t tried it yet. But for what you describe I wonder if it could be an interesting sub for Dubonnet Rouge (similar to the Averna sub in a Black Manhattan, for instance).

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