Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview




Aperitivi, Digestivi, Liquori, Vov and Coffee Liqueur Recipes, Prints...







Chocolate Salami







Egg Liqueur Vov - (no waiting)


Coffee Liqueur (no waiting)

Rosolio (15 days)

Aperitivi e Digestivi


I must admit, I prefer Italy's abundant aperitivi and digestivi and liquori, to her wines.  The world must, too, because Italy produces the most popular liqueur in the world:  Amaretto di Saronno

Generally speaking:

  • aperitifs are drunk before a meal
  • digestives are drunk after a meal
  • liqueurs are drunk after a meal, or with sweets, or used in desserts
  • grappa is drunk after a meal (and can be used to ignite desserts!)

Below I provide recipes for two delicious liqueurs that you can make and drink immediately:  a coffee liqueur, and a Zabaione (egg, Marsala wine, and sugar) liqueur that is sold commercially as Vov.

And I've put a few of the more known brand drinks Italy exports to the world, with what they're made of, to give you an idea of the taste, in case you haven't tried them.  And a few links to company websites.

I won't get into Grappa (not one of my favorite drinks) but direct you instead to the  Italian Made Grappa page if you're interested.  Just so you know, it's a very strong alcohol made from the fermented waste products of wine production.  (Click here for a grappa, Anthony LaPaglia, Betsy's Wedding story, on my website.)



Egg Liqueur (Vov)

The story goes that in 1840 a sweets-maker in Padova, Mr. Pezziol, developed a drinkable Zabaione he could sell customers because he wanted to use up the egg yolks that remained after making all the Torrone (egg white and sugar nougat), which was his big seller.  So Vov was born and has been a constant success in Italy ever since.  

It's such a part of Italian culture that they haven't needed to advertise it much since 1840.  When it was advertised, just like Zabaione, it was touted as an energy pick-me-up.  The sugar content is high, and the energy from the egg yolks is quickly broken down and made ready for use by the body.  It even became the official drink of the Italian military for just that reason.

Today it's sold in different ways, as an ingredient in cocktails, as a ski-vacation pick-me-up on or just off the slopes, and as always, as an addition to coffee on a cold winter's day.  Here's the recipe.

6 egg yolks

500 grams of sugar

1/2 liter of whole milk

1/2 liter of Marsala wine

1 lemon

1-2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract

Put the yolks and sugar together in a pan.  Mix this with an electric mixer over a very low heat (or in a double-boiler) constantly as you add the Marsala wine.  Cook it for at least 5 minutes, mixing all the time.  Then slowly add the milk and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the juice of the lemon, and the Vanilla extract.

You can drink it right away, or store it in the refrigerator, pretty much for as long as you'd like, but don't exaggerate.  Trust me, once your family tastes it, it won't last long.  Just like the commercial Vov, it's great in coffee, over ice cream, in cakes and icings, and even the new way in cocktails.  You can also add grain alcohol to raise the alcohol content, if you wish.



This is the best recipe I have for Zabaione.  It works every time.  Zabaione is supposed to be the food you give the newlywed man so he has energy to get through the wedding night.  It does give an energy pick-me-up due to the sugar and eggs in it, and men love it more than women, so he'll love whomever makes it for him (beware).  And if you're a man, you may decide you want to live on this only, but I would suggest a more varied diet.

6 eggs yolks

3/4 cups sugar

1 cup Marsala wine

Put the yolks and sugar together in a pan.  Mix this with an electric mixer over a very low heat (or in a double-boiler) constantly as you slowly add the Marsala wine.  Cook it for at least 5 minutes, mixing all the time.  If it's not light and full of air, whip it for another 5 minutes.

It's delicious served warm over sliced fruit, especially peaches, but is delicious, like candy, when served cold.  An original recipe and history for Zabaione comes from the Town Hall of Torino (there's water in their recipe because Marsala was very expensive back then).  And I have a Zabaione page for you to enjoy as well, on this site.


Coffee Liqueur

The sugar and water base in this recipe is the syrup for any sweet liqueur, and you can add as much alcohol as you want (alcohol preserves it, so be sure to put enough to keep it safe from germs).  You can experiment making other liqueurs by adding fruit syrups to flavor the liqueur any way you want.  Here's the coffee version.

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup good quality instant coffee

1-2 teaspoons Vanilla extract (to taste)

1 1/2 cups Vodka

Boil the water and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved and the syrup is clear.  Remove it from the heat and let it cool quite a bit.  Dissolve the coffee in the Vodka.  Add the Vanilla.  Then add this to the syrup.  Mix carefully.  

You can use it immediately, or store it in clean, air-tight bottles.  It thickens as it cools more.  It's delicious over ice cream, added to coffee or milk, or on it's own.  A drop of cream sets a serving off well, or you can use it to make any of the Coffee Liqueur mixed drinks. 



Rosolio is a delicious liqueur flavored with almond, lemon, vanilla, and optional rose water to taste.  I make it without the rose water, and guest go nuts about it. 

This is a very old liqueur that was super popular in the 1800s.  It only needs to set 15 days before you can serve it, but the longer it sits, the mellower the flavor becomes.  Delicious!

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup ground almonds

Grated lemon rind from 1 lemon

1-2 teaspoons Vanilla extract or a vanilla bean sliced lengthwise

1 1/2 cups Vodka

Put the ground almonds, grated rind and vanilla in a glass container that you can seal tightly, that can hold 2 cups of liquid.  Add the Vodka.  Seal the container.  Let it sit for 10 days.  I like to shake it around each day to get the ingredients well mixed.

After 10 days, filter the mixture.  You can use paper towels lining a sieve set over a bowl, and some patience.  Then add the cooled syrup made by boiling the water and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved and the syrup is clear. 

Store the liqueur in glass bottles, sealed, for 5 more days, again mixing it around each day, so the flavors mix well with the Vodka.  After 5 days, it's ready to serve.  I set it in the refrigerator for a few hours because a lot of people like to drink it cold.


( Italian Cuisine has lots of liqueur recipes, too, but be prepared to wait several weeks (months!) for the drinks to 'ripen'.)

Amaretto di Saronno Originaleliqueur, made from the oil of apricot pits, almond taste Sambuca Molinari:  liqueur, made from the petals of the elderberry bush, anise seeds, sugar and spices Montenegro Amaro Liqueur:  liqueur, more than 40 herbs and flavored with vanilla
Limoncello: liqueur, made from fresh lemon peels Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur:  liqueur, made from hazelnuts, herbs and berries Galliano Liqueur:  liqueur, made from anise, licorice, vanilla
Campari:  aperitif, more than 60 herbs, spices and fruit peels Cynar:  aperitif artichoke extract, herbs, spices, rhubarb, orange peels Branca Menta:  mint aperitif
Martini Bianco:  aperitif Cinzano Vermouth:  aperitif Fernet Branca:  digestive, more than 40 herbs, white wine and brandy
Amaro Lucano:  digestivo, made with angelica, rue, wormwood, sage, elder, thyme, juniper, gentian and centaurea minor Averna Siciliana:  digestive, caramel and licorice taste with hints of herbs and spices Amaro Ramazzotti:  digestive, made from gentian, cinchona, rhubarb, cinnamon, oregano, sweet orange and bitter orange
















Visit my Spoonbread (Lady Finger) Desserts page

Visit my Dessert Creams page