Family Guy

01 August, 2016

So the brand was known, but keeping old country traditions in the minds of the Italian diasporas that eventually became second, third and fourth-generation, was an increasing challenge. The memory fades, traditions dilute. Even back at home aperitifs and liqueurs no longer have the tradition they once had.

Savarese may have a traditional inclination and is certainly travelling less than he was, but he knows the wind has changed for the small liqueur business.

He is prepared to do something about it. Last year Strega appointed its first global brand ambassador, the insatiably social bartender and Americanophile Matteo Zed. Then came its first cocktail competition, which, in its second year (a few months ago), took in Italian competitors stationed outside of Italy (mini ambassadors for the brand, is the thinking). This year at Tales there will be two activities put on by Strega. These are all small endeavours but they go to the heart of the bartending community.

“Bartenders will be a good way to develop Strega in the future,” says Savarese. “Strega is appropriate for cocktails – it has a strong, complex character, it spends six months in spices and six months in oak. Before people would drink it with water or tonic water but now I see the best way is mixing it in cocktails.”

The thinking is sound. Chartreuse, Galliano, Benedictine, Suze and Becherovka have all grown in popularity in recent years – somehow garnering a bartender buzz from a void. Along with Strega, what these ancient liqueurs have spewing out of their maceration tanks – and what new-to-market brands can only fabricate – is a history, story and authenticity. Strega, for example, means ‘witch’ in Italian. It was named after the legend of witchcraft that took place around the town of Benevento from Roman times. The liqueur has been in Benevento since it launched. Not bad for the press release – throw in handcrafted production, unbroken family stewardship, Campari-esque vintage art (see above left) and you have a quintessential – almost iconic – Italian liquor brand. “In the world there are not so many authentic values – people imitate the past,” says Savarese. “But we are authentic.”

With younger generations around him, you get the feeling Savarese has one eye on preparing the business for succession. Perhaps not for a while – he and his cousin have several years left in the tank – but if there’s one thing he believes in, it is that Strega Alberti’s strength is in its family.

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