Category Archives: people

Master Mixologist Patricia Richards’ Nonino 2011 Trip Photo Album

Patricia was kind enough to share these photos with us… Enjoy!

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Thoughts and wishes for a brighter future in Italy…

Above: A view from the Abbazia di Rosazzo in Manzano (province of Udine), Friuli.

“The greatest thing my mother taught me,” Giannola Nonino told me when we visited with her last month, “was how to love things that are beautiful — whether a flower in a field or a work of art.”

Today, as the Italian government reforms and begins to face the challenges of the day, we are sending thoughts and wishes to all of Italy’s citizens for a brighter future…

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In Venice today…

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Frank Bruni’s New York Times profile of the Giannola Nonino

“THE SATURDAY PROFILE: A Dynamo and Her Daughters Turn Leftovers to Gold.”
Frank Bruni, New York Times, December 6, 2003

PERCOTO, Italy — GIANNOLA NONINO was given garbage, and she simply refused to accept it. That is one way to distill her experience and adventure, a liquor-trade tale in which she played Pygmalion to a peasant’s swill.

Before Ms. Nonino administered her makeover, Italian grappa was no more dignified than its ingredients: the grape skins, seeds and stems left over from making wine. That mash was trash, and the crude concoction it produced often tasted that way.

But she saw a potential in grappa and a possible market for it that no one else did. She envisioned what it became: a crystalline nectar that could compete with cognac and do battle with brandy.

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Lunch at home with the Nonino family

In January 2011, my wife Tracie P and I were guests in the home of the Nonino family. Our delicious and fascinating meal lasted 3 hours! Here’s my post on our visit.

Conversation over lunch in the home of the Nonino family (the first family of Italian distillation) ranged from encounters with Marcello Mastroianni, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Luigi Veronelli to the (literal) renaissance of native grape varieties in Friuli. I was THRILLED to be invited for lunch in their home, a fascinating family with a fascinating history. That’s daughter Cristina and father Benito above. They served an aperitif of Amaro Nonino on the rocks with a slice of blood orange.

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The legendary R.W. Apple on Nonino

Legendary food and wine writer R.W. Apple’s landmark New York Times article on Grappa changed the way Americans saw (and tasted) Italian distillates in 1997.

“Grappa, Fiery Friend of Peasants, Now Glows With a Quieter Flame”
By R.W. Apple, New York Times, December 31, 1997

You might say, with a bit of poetic license, that grappa runs in Benito Nonino’s veins. For several generations, stretching back into the 19th century, his family has been distilling in Friuli, the northeastern corner of Italy. A questing, hawk-nosed man, he and his handsome, extroverted wife, Giannola, longed, as he often says, “to turn grappa from a Cinderella into a queen.”

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Mixologist Mike Ryan, Chicago, Illinois

Photo via Chicago Reader.

As head bartender at Sable Kitchen & Bar, Mike Ryan brings his signature culinary flair to the crafted cocktail. A Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago graduate, former Moto sous chef, and self-described “shot and a beer guy,” Ryan became accidentally enamored with bartending while working as a cook at Fulton Market restaurant Moto between 2005 and 2008. [Owner Homaro Cantu] “wanted a cook behind the bar,” remembers Ryan. “I was literally looking up things like highballs in a book.” Soon, Ryan became interested in the possibilities presented by unusual spirits, classic mixes and new flavor profiles.

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