Thirteen: Medici

Lorenzo de' Medici is remembered as a patron of the arts and as a key figure in the Renaissance. His contribution to the world of spirits isn't as well known. The story goes that a brandy-based liqueur was created in his honour. And that's about it. Sorry.

The Medici link makes for good copy in a press release, but the major development came in 1938 when two brothers-in-law started producing a version of that same liqueur in Livorno, Italy. These days it's called Tuaca and thanks to American soldiers encountering it during World War 2, it's gained international exposure.

That exposure spreads as far as Britain, where Tuaca has an interesting link with the town of Brighton. In Brighton, Tuaca's become a verb.

To go out in Brighton UK and drink a ridiculous amount of Tuaca, get extremely wasted on it and do crazy things you normally wouldn't and don't remember (usually of a sexual nature!) Tuaca-ed, The Urban Dictionary

What's even more remarkable about Brighton's taste for Tuaca is that it's more or less entirely the work of just two people - Sammy Berry and Poul Jensen.

Poul said: "In 1998 the only place you could get Tuaca was in the St James Tavern. Within a year it was in about 30 pubs. Now you can buy it in 95 per cent of bars, pubs and clubs.

"Local off-licences called us up because people kept coming in and asking for it. They would turn on their heel when they found it wasn't there."

It's an amazing story. Since 2006, Tuaca has been sold and distributed in the UK by Bacardi Brown-Forman, who took on Sammy and Poul as brand ambassadors for it, and recently gained one of the greatest accolades available to spirits and liqueurs - its own Thursday Drinks Night at the Mixoloseum.


45ml Tuaca
15ml Crème de Mûre
15ml Punt E Mes
Lemon zest
Orange zest

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist.

Posted on April 6, 2009 and filed under Fiftytwo, Mixology, Projects, Recipes.