Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur steeped in Italian tradition. Its flavor is balanced and bold without being syrupy or slick.
Company: Gruppo Campari
Distillery: Canale, Italy
Cask type: large neutral oak vats
Aged 6 to 8 months
- Nutella fans, and nearly everyone else, will love its true toasted hazelnut flavor.
- It has the body and weight of a liqueur without seeming slick or syrupy.
- The flavor is very particular and not extremely versatile within the realm of cocktail-making.
Color: Toasty gold, a result of macerating toasted, crushed Tonda Gentile hazelnuts in a base of a neutral spirit and water.
Nose: While the aroma of toasted hazelnuts certainly is predominant, look for underlying notes of shaved chocolate and vanilla bean, too.
Palate: Silky on the tongue, with notes of toasted nuts, vanilla bean, cocoa, and subtle citrus
Finish: Sweet vanilla bean and nuttiness linger on the tongue.
Frangelico was launched in the late 1970s, but the tradition of macerating herbs, flowers, roots, leaves, fruits, and nuts in spirits has been part of the Italian culinary culture for hundreds of years, and nearly each region in the country has its own version. Frangelico, however, is one of the country’s most visible and successful exports of this type. It is produced in the Piedmont area of northwestern Italy, at the base of the Alps.
It manages to be sweet and rich without veering into syrupy status. The hazelnut flavor for which it’s known predominates, sure, but is joined by complementary notes of chocolate and vanilla, and even a slight hint of citrus, in both its flavor and its aroma.
Frangelico liqueur is often brought out as an after-dinner treat on holidays and other special occasions; its decadent, nutty cocoa-flecked flavor warrants its status as a coda to a lovely evening, holiday or not. And while it certainly features a distinct flavor that seems to render it a challenge to use in cocktails, it actually mixes nicely with an earthy reposado tequila, a splash of club, and a squeeze of lime. Its unusual bottle shape—a friar, complete with robe rope tie—is a nod to the liqueur’s origins from Italian Christian monks, and one legendary one in particular named Frangelico, who apparently sourced his botanicals and wild hazelnuts along the River Po in the 18th century.
The base spirit is a distillate made from crushed Piedmontese hazelnuts.
The bottom line: Although its versatility is more limited than other adaptable modifiers, this sweet, nutty liqueur is an asset on any bar cart.