Poncino - a new version of the classic Livornese liqueur
Former Tuoni e Canepa employee, Simona Camici, has just launched her micro-distillery, Liquori Camìci and her very own version of Livorno's celebrated Ponce liqueur. Unlike other familiar brands manufactured in neighbouring Pisa province, Simona's Poncino is made here in its hometown of Livorno.
Simona is no stranger to the world of liqueurs, having spent ten years working for the formerly Livornese company that produced the local Tuaca liqueur. When she was made redundant in 2010, due to the company transfer to the US, she decided she would bring the production of a local liqueur back to Livorno.
The classic local after dinner drink, Ponce alla Livornese, originated in the second half of the 17th century when sailors of the British Royal Navy introduced Punch(a drink originating in the East Indies) to the Port of Livorno. But the rum that the British sailors mixed with tea, sugar and lemon was an expensive luxury at that time, so the Livornese created their own, less expensive version which they named Ponce. Instead of tea, it is now made with coffee.
Two long years
It took Simona over two years to set up her business, which proved to be quite an adventure. The most frustrating part of the whole process was all the Italian bureaucracy she had to deal with to obtain the appropriate licences. She has a good few stories to tell, ideally over a couple of Poncini!
Not everyone understands that there is no "original recipe" for Ponce. Current producers all have their own recipes, and Simona has created a new one. Unlike the brands we are used to, the new Poncino can also be drunk on its own, with or without ice. I tried it "on the rocks", as a new summer drink, and loved the delicate aniseed aroma that distinguishes it from other brands. I will look forward to trying it served in the more traditional way, hot with coffee and a piece of lemon zest, when the temperature drops a little!
Poncino (40° acohol by volume) comes in 0.75 litre and 1.5 litre bottles and is currently available from Cantina Fiorenza (Viale Mameli 42), and Salatti (Via Mentana 21). To taste it by the glass, try Ristorante Il Romito, or Caffé del Mercato (inside the central market, near the main entrance). Now also available at Trattoria La Persiana, Scali Novi Lena 38 (Le Cantine)
Although Simona hopes her Poncino will be appreciated by locals, she is also keen to introduce it to markets abroad and is already making contacts in the United States and England.
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