August 01, 2022 by Arden Montgomery
Meet the Maker: Elisa Carta, Liquore Delle Sirene
The Liquore delle Sirene are a collection of bitters and liqueurs made by the lovely Elisa Carta, a trained sommelier and olive oil taster, and a passionate herbalist. All of her products were born on Lake Garda, and were inspired by its gardens, colors, sunsets, and aromas. Many of the botanicals come from here. The name Sirene is a tribute to one of the most beautiful bays in the lake, Baia delle Sirene (Bay of the Sirens), and its story. Liquore delle Sirene are the fruit of a long and passionate research, and the reworking of old family recipes for Italian liqueurs and elixirs. No chemicals or artificial coloring are used in any of Elisa’s products.
Elisa makes her liqueurs near Lake Garda, using recipes handed down to her that have been in her family for generations. They are artisanal creations made from herbs, flowers, roots and fruit; botanical ingredients that are infused singly in alcohol, then combined to give complex, distinctive aroma and flavor. Most of the botanicals she uses come from around the lake with the exception of some from the Far East that do not grow in Italy but have been traditionally used in Italian liqueurs for centuries, such as Chinese Rhubarb Root. Mount Baldo, on the Verona side of Lake Garda, has been called ‘Hortus Europae,’ the garden of Europe, for its environment and its richness of flora and fauna, and Elisa has made a detailed study of the herbs of this ecosystem. Many of the local botanicals were no longer grown here until just a decade or so ago as much of the population left for big cities and higher wages after the World Wars. A group of young Mount Baldo residents, disenchanted with city life, are staying in the region and have banded together to resurrect the botanical industry that the region was previously famous for. They have replanted fields, are farming organically, hand harvesting, and using proper cutting and drying techniques. The local economy has responded enthusiastically and Elisa is sourcing some of her herbs from them to make her range of bitters and liqueurs.
A bittersweet aperitivo liqueur made from 23 botanicals, most of them grown near Lake Garda and around the historic city of Verona; others cultivated and shipped from the south of Italy and some, like Chinese rhubarb root, from around the world. Botanicals include olive and lemon tree leaves, linden and acacia flowers, wild rose berries, sweet and bitter orange, absinthe, gentian and ginger. All infusions are done individually, blended according to Elisa’s recipe and then rested for a short time in small oak cask. A light filtration is performed with paper filter to preserve color and aroma. No chemicals or artificial coloring are used.
Sirene Bitter is wildly versatile and works in a wide variety of different cocktails. Some people enjoy using it as you would the traditional red variety: on the rocks with soda as an aperitivo; in a Negroni or Boulevardier; or it can also be enjoyed as you would an amaro, at the end of a meal as a traditional Italian digestivo. Other good pairings include ginger beer, bergamot, or grapefruit soda.
Italian natural aperitif. Handcrafted in small batches, from organic grapes infused with local botanicals from Lake Garda. No chemicals or artificial coloring are used.
This makes an incredible spritz with Prosecco, soda and lemon. It is also great with gin in a cocktail like a white Negroni!
Think notes of sweet orange, lemongrass, white flowers, gentian, melon, woodsy spice, mint.