It’s a funny feeling to experience nostalgia for a time and place never known. Yet, thanks to its timeless, throwback glamour, that’s precisely what occurs while staying at Villa Igiea, Palermo, Sicily’s grand dame resort (now a part of the illustrious Rocco Forte collection of hotels). Host to royalty, dignitaries, and Hollywood stars reveling in the resort’s Tyrrhenian Sea-adjacent gardens and Belle Epoque interiors, their presence is palpable. Whether enjoying an evening aperitivo within the resort’s vaulted Terrazza Bar or dining al fresco on its expansive, zagara-perfumed terrace overlooking the Gulf of Palermo, the nostalgic vibe is enhanced by a menu of creative cocktails that honor marquee guests of days gone by.
Created by the Terrazza Bar team in tandem with the bar’s creative director, Salvatore Calabrese, Villa Igiea’s cocktail menu features innovative twists on modern classics, as only the famed Calabrese (aka “The Maestro”) can craft. Regarded as one of the most influential figures in the modern drinks industry, Calabrese drew upon his intrigue with Villa Igiea’s social history and links to international celebrities to design drinks that set Terrazza Bar’s stylish tone.
The Donna Franca, a fruity cocktail of Bulldog gin, dry apricot syrup, lemon juice, Champagne, and cherry foam, was inspired by Palermo society maven Donna Franca Fornio, who held court as Villa Igiea’s owner during the early 1900s.
The ‘Divina,’ a low-sugar cocktail with Ciroc vodka, basil, kiwi and honey cordial, and champagne, is based on natural botanicals and honey and celebrates the healthy lifestyle of Villa Igiea guest and diva Maria Callas.
Named for Gina Lollobrigida, the ‘Lollo’ honors the great Italian actress’ role as “The Blue Fairy” in the 1972 Italian TV adaptation of Pinocchio. This lavender-hued cocktail features Bulldog gin, Italicus (a light, sweet, and floral aperitivo traditionally made using the common sundew herb), lavender honey, and lemon juice.
Venerating Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, the ‘Ice Queen’ (a nickname bestowed upon her by the Hollywood media for her cold demeanor) features Ketel One vodka, Acqua Bianca (a unique liqueur of fresh mint and lemon zest created by Calabrese), eucalyptus and aromatic anise ice.
The great Sophia Loren, once an overnight guest at Villa Igiea, receives tribute via the ‘Madame Loraine,’ a rosy cocktail made with Bulldog gin, a pinch of tomato liqueur, strawberry puree, blood orange juice, honey, and a garnish of fried basil.
The ‘Tunisina’ honors Claudia Cardinale, eponymously named for the small North African country where she was born. She stayed at the resort in 1963 while filming “The Leopard.” This pleasantly bitter and aromatic cocktail features Espolon Blanco tequila, Indigeno bitter, hibiscus, and prickly pear soda.
Whether you choose one or enjoy them all, one thing’s for sure – when enjoyed at the storied, Sicilian-frescoed Terraza Bar and Terrace at Villa Igiea, the effect is sublimely intoxicating!
Fran Miller travels extensively; you can read some of her other cocktail travel articles here and here.