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December 13, 2010

DIMMI LIQUORE DI MILANO

Once a year or so a new product enters the market and permanently burns an exquisite flavor impression into our brain. Often times we find ourselves getting a sneak peak of this delectable new elixir and, while we count ourselves fortunate enough to be in the category of first tasters, we’d really be happiest if the product was readily available across the nation the moment we taste it so that we could share our pleasure with you and therefore you too could be an early adopter.

Dimmi (formally known as Dimmi Liquore Di Milano) www.dimmispirits.com is one of those products. And it is definitely one of those products you’ll want to adopt as soon as it enters your market. We have Dustin Dyer of Domaine Select Wine Estates (Food & Wine Magazine’s 2010 winner for Importer of the Year) (www.domaineselect.com) to thank for sharing it with us at last year’s Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) and you can thank DSWE for making it more widely available to you now.

Launched in California and created by wine industry veteran, Stefano Turini, Dimmi, with its complex and seductive floral and stone fruit flavor created by a distillate of northern Italian organic winter wheat that takes six month to infuse with a family vermouth recipe dating back to the 1930s, is getting into the hands of bartenders and chefs who are seeking another elegant, sweet and refreshing liquid tool for their repertoire. The liqueur unites other ingredients and spirits very subtly. According to Turini, Neyah White said it best when he commented, “Dimmi lays flowers around the feet of other flowers it mixes with.”
Turini decided in 2000 to mix it up in the spirits business with his desire to create a new spirit in Italy where he lives. He explains the process, “It took a little while to really come up with the right ingredients and style and while I was doing that the whole cocktail craze was developing in the US at the same time. As I fine tuned my plan for a fine Italian liquore I wanted to make sure it could play an important role in cocktails.”

He continues, “It was about passion for sure – first my passion for Italy, second my passion for wine and cuisine. Food is very important for me. The key to my business plan is wine, spirits and cuisine. I know that whatever restaurant or bar it is and if it produces tremendous food and people are enjoying it their bar will be popular and they’ll sell a lot of cocktails.”

A lot of hot selling cocktails are rewarded with the inclusion of this liqueur featuring the old family vermouth recipe, which includes wormwood, bitter orange, liquorice, rhubarb, vanilla and ginseng married to the new recipe of apricot and peach blossoms created by Turini and his Italian partners. The addition of Nebbiolo grappa completes the union.

More than just a mixer, Dimmi stands up in a cocktail and can be showcased as a secondary spirit. It functions beautifully chilled as a simple aperitivo but its true raison d’etre in the glass is for cocktails. Many bartenders tasting it for the first time often have a light go off as they immediately figure out what to do with it (believe us, we’ve seen the inspiration first hand).

Blake Landis, Bar Manager at The Yard in Santa Monica says, “I love Dimmi so much because I can take fresh fruit from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and in our classic cocktail concept make small twists and changes…for example [I use] Dimmi for (its) floral attributes, Aperol (substitute for Campari) for a dry/bitter touch and Millers gin in a Negroni style cocktail.” Matthew Doerr, Bar Manager of Beverly Hills’ new modern Vietnamese Canteen, Red Medicine notes, “We will use fresh/local ingredients from the California market and, combined with small production spirits (like Dimmi) we will (match) our food to light style cocktails…$10 across the board.”

Matching the liquid with a name that suited its character was almost as lengthy a process as lighting on just the perfect formula. Turini explains, “The name was a roundabout story. When I originally introduced the brand it was through Southern and it was called Veloce. My trademark lawyer assured me it was a good name to use. Except there was a little bar in New York City called Bar Veloce. It turned out they didn’t like me using the name. So I decided to change it. The most important reason the name wasn’t working was it meant quick and fast. The spirit and the name didn’t work mentally with me. It was almost a blessing in disguise that I had had to change the name and I chose something more meaningful. Dimmi means “tell me” in Italian. It’s a popular word with Italians on the telephone. A better word in the marketplace as well.”

With the marketplace expanding as Dimmi becomes available in Baltimore, Chicago, Colorado, New York, Oregon and more cities we’re wondering whether Dimmi will be the new “bartender ketchup.” But we’ll leave that up to you to decide. So taste it. Then let us know what you think.

Indian Summer
By Joe Parrilli, Comstock, San Francisco

1 ½ oz. Dimmi
½ oz. Flor de Cana Gold 4 Year Rum
½ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 heaping bar spoons Quince Jam
Shake w/ice, double strain into a cocktail glass, garnish w/lemon twist

Breaking the Law
By Greg Seider, Summit Bar, NYC

Muddle 1 cucumber slice
1 oz. Ilegal Mezcal Reposado
1 oz. Dimmi
3⁄4 oz. Lime Juice
3⁄4 oz. Chipotle Chili (infused) Agave nectar
2 dash Summit Summer Orange Bitters

Shake, double strain in Collins Glass, top with soda, garnish grated orange zest

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