Chi-what? May we introduce you to chinotto: an Italian (summer) drink made from the chinotto fruit. It is bitter, sweet and you could call it the Italian cola. But chinotto is more than that. Culy, with a glass of chinotto in hand, delved into the matter about this fruit and the drink.
What is chinotto?
The drink is called chinotto because the fruit (the chinotto ) is the main ingredient of the drink. It looks like a tangerine, but looks can be deceiving. If you see the yellow or orange chinotto in the wild, don’t pick it. He’s not so easy to pick up out of hand. The fruit is very bitter and only tastes good if you preserve it.
Chinotto trees are mainly found in Liguria (Italy) and are the symbol of that region and especially the place Savona. Here the drink and the fruit are not to be dragged on. But the trees have not always been along the Ligurian coast. Only since 1500, when an adventurous Italian came back from China and had a small chinotto tree in his luggage to plant at home. And so it happened: the tree grew fantastically in the Mediterranean climate and the chinotto was labeled an Italian fruit.
How does the drink taste?
It is no surprise that the basis for chinotto is formed by the fruit. Chinotto – you pronounce this as kinotto , not chinotto – is an alcohol-free, brownish drink with carbon dioxide. No wonder it is often referred to as the Italian cola. Still, don’t expect a sweet, easy-drinking drink.
The drink is described as bittersweet and it is exactly that. The bitter fruit combines perfectly with the cinnamon, rhubarb and secret blend of twenty different spices contained in it. It takes some perseverance and getting used to the drink. The first sip will make you think, “I’ll pass,” but as you persevere and continue drinking (all with ice and a lemon in it), the flavor of the chinotto will conquer your heart. It is spicy, bitter and sweet all in one and every sip brings you a little closer to the Italian coast. It’s a bit close to crodino and other non-alcoholic bitters.
What can you do with chinotto?
Drink of course! Drink it neat with some ice and a lemon, or mix it with one of your favorite cocktails. In Italy they mix the chinò (that’s how you order it) with a shot of ice-cold espresso, amaro or with sage syrup for fancy cocktails and nowadays there is even chinotto beer.
But due to the typical taste of the drink, it is also a good candidate for cooking. Use it in a paste with anchovies or through a batter for fried fish and you won’t know what you taste. Especially if you also drink a glass of chinotto next to it, which provides extra depth in the dishes.
Where do you buy chinotto?
The Italian drink is not (yet) popular in the Netherlands, but we can’t wait for the Culy editors to do so. The drink is not so easily available right now, but there are addresses where you can score your brown Italian cola. You will find the classic version of San Pellegrino here, but some large AH or Jumbo branches also have it every now and then. They also have it at Sterk in Amsterdam.
If you can’t find it anywhere, you can always go along with the new TikTok trend and make your own cola with balsamic vinegar. Doesn’t taste like cola, but tends to be more like chinotto. Especially with some orange and lemon juice in it!
Source: Culy by culy.nl
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