The Scoop on Luxardo’s New Herbal Liqueur (Plus, 7 Recipes to Try)

Posted on: Nov. 15, 2016 | | By: Jennifer Billock

Matteo Luxardo, the export director for Luxardo, has what seems to be the dream job. He travels around the world visiting bars, chatting with bartenders and tasting cocktails. But don’t be fooled—there’s hard work to do, too. Recently, based on the feedback of global bartenders, he and his family’s nearly 200-year-old company were inspired to solve a problem they heard a lot about: red bitters in drinks when something different — and perhaps better — would work best. Bitter Bianco, Luxardo’s new herbal liqueur, is the result.

Bitter Bianco is complex and partially shrouded in secrecy. The distilled herbal infusion contains seven herbs: cardamom, rhubarb, quinine, bitter orange, and three secret ones to give the alcohol its distinct taste. After adding sugar to the distillate, Luxardo adds some wormwood for the final touch and to get that bitter flavor the liqueur is named for. The finished product is a clear product, round and smooth with citrus notes, but also gently bitter — flavors that are reflected in the scent — completed by an herbaceous botanical overtone. And bartenders everywhere can rejoice; the product has an indefinite shelf life.

Luxardo developed Bitter Bianco in part because of the popularity of White Negronis, but also because bartenders were looking for an alternative to red bitters. This one is clear, satisfying those who wanted a product with a similar bitter taste but without the red color. Matteo said the majority of bitters on the market right now are red — this was a natural evolution and a unique twist to current offerings.

“There’s no other product like this in the market,” he said.

To make sure the company got the liqueur exactly right, it conducted exhausted taste tests. Matteo himself brought a sample of the new product any time he traveled, anywhere in the world, and worked with bartenders to create new cocktails or update old ones.

“We work very closely with bartenders from all over the world,” he said, “especially for the creation of our new liqueurs or for the creation of new cocktails made with our products.”

The liqueur itself is quite versatile. Bartenders can use it in any recipe that calls for vermouth, drink it on its own, or create their own new drink.

“You can prepare all those cocktails where you want to have the bitter flavor but you don’t want the red color,” Matteo said.

The team at Luxardo uses the liqueur by default in a Negroni Bianco recipe (see below). They also suggest using it in a white spritz recipe; theirs is made with Prosecco and Bitter Bianco. Below, check out a few more creative ways to use the new juice:

“You’re Bitter Than That,” a drink by Kevin Mabry of Boston’s Capo Restaurant.

1. You’re Bitter Than That (Kevin Mabry — Capo Restaurant, Boston)

    • .75 oztBlanco Tequila
    • .75 oztLuxardo Bitter Bianco
    • .75 oztLuxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Liqueur
    • .75 oztFresh Lime Juice
    • .25 oztRich Simple Syrup (2:1)

Mount all ingredients in a shaker tin. Add ice. Hard shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with orange twist.

Croatia Firing Squad, created by Ken Luciano of San Francisco’s The Forgery.

2. Croatia Firing Squad (Ken Luciano — The Forgery, San Francisco)

    • 1 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
    • 1 oz Lillet Blanc
    • 1 oz No.3 London Dry Gin
    • .5 oz Rose Wine

Build cocktail in glass, add ice and stir. Garnish with rose petal.

Fourth Generation, created by Ken Luciano of San Francisco’s The Forgery.

3. Fourth Generation (Ken Luciano — The Forgery, San Francisco)

    • 1.5 oz Mezcal Amaras Espadin
    • .25 oztLuxardo Espresso Italian Liqueur
    • .75 oztLuxardo Bitter Bianco
    • 2 dash Salted Chocolate Bitters

Add all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a Nick & Nora coupe. Garnish with a ghost orange twist.

Bianco Americano, a highball made with Bitter Bianco, kina and gin by Blackbird’s Matt Grippo.

4. Bianco Americano (Matt Grippo — Blackbird, San Francisco)

    • 1.5 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
    • 1 oz Tempus Fugit Kina L’Aero d’Or
    • .5 oz Junipero Gin

Topped with about 4 oz. of LaCroix Pamplemousse. Garnish with grapefruit twist and thyme.

#106, a cocktail created by Chelsea Little of St. Louis.

5. #106 Cocktail (Chelsea Little, Olive & Oak, St. Louis)

    • 1 oz Chinaco Blanco Tequila
    • 1 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
    • .5 oz Pear Syrup
    • .5 oz Lemon Juice
    • pinch Grey Sea Salt

Shake and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with sage.

Palermo Breeze, a stunning cocktail created by Lainey Collum of Houston, Texas.

6. Palermo Breeze (Lainey Collum, Arthur Ave., Houston)

    • 1.5 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
    • .5 oz Velvet Falernum
    • .5 oz Lime
    • .5 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
    • 2 oz Belstar Sparkling Rose

Shake first 4 ingredients and strain into collins. Top with pebble ice. Top with the rose. Garnish with a basil and a lime flower for aromatics.

Luxardo’s take on the Negroni Bianco includes their brand-new Bitter Bianco liqueur.

7. Negroni Bianco

  • 1.5 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
  • .75 oz Tempus Fugit Alessio Vermouth Bianco
  • 1.5 oz Junipero Gin

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice, stir, and strain into coupe.

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