Especially at this time of year, I generally don’t think about dessert drinks. Or even after-dinner drinks, truth be told, except for a half-finger of spirits, over plentiful ice. Maybe a well-chilled amaro.
But I’ve been reaching into the fridge with some regularity lately, to treat myself to a nip of Disaronno Velvet, the latest variation on the classic Italian liqueur Disaronno. Few bottle profiles in the world are more familiar than this classic rectangle—in part, perhaps, because the stuff has been around since 1525. The current shape arrived a half-century ago and a bottle served as a classic holiday gift for decades—still does, in some corners. I was amazed to learn recently that the spirit’s clear notes of almond and marzipan derive not from nuts—the stuff contains no nuts at all—but from apricot kernels.
This new bottling—a creamy white inside and out, as if it were crafted in Narnia—had the misfortune to launch this past April, when most of the world was pulling back to familiar favorites rather than looking for new aperitifs. But the liqueur is catching on, and for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is almost irresistibly delicious, with a rich sweetness counterbalanced by its familiar nuttiness and just a touch of alcohol darting through. On a couple of rocks, it’s a very pleasant sipper. That’s the first recommendation of Paul Zahn, the company’s director of brand ambassadors, who recently walked me through a tasting. “Someone described it to me as ‘cheesecake in a glass,’ and now I am using that,” he told me. “And I am not going to give any credit.”
Right now, in this warmer season, it shows its stuff best in a tiki vein, where the floral aspects of the almond flavors come to the fore; shake it to a froth with rum (but, naturally, avoid citrus). If you are still feeling dessert, add it into a chocolate martini in any form. A White Russian. Or enjoy the simplicity of one of Zahn’s strongest recommendations, the Velvet Godfather:
50ml Disaronno Velvet
Optional: 2 spoons of apricot jam
Stir all ingredients, then strain over rocks into a glass.