Limoncello: Italians invented it, Danny Devito wants to be the face of it, and now Seattle has a spot to sample it. A sweet, lemony liqueur made by steeping fruit or fruit zest in grain alcohol and then adding simple syrup, limoncello has recently enjoyed a resurgence among the beverage cognoscenti, who pour it into cocktails or sip it solo after a big meal. Then there’s grappa—the bracing brandy distilled from grape bits left over during wine making. It too has been appearing on more bar menus. But there are many lesser-known liquores italianos, and around these parts the place to try them is Tidbit Bistro.
Digestif diehards John van Deinse and Nic Longo own the citrus-hued Spanish-Italian bistro on Capitol Hill, and they’re the first Seattle restaurateurs to offer flights of Italian liqueurs. Customers can order a grouping of four ’cellos or three grappas; the couple says the ’cello flight sparks discussions about the world beyond limoncello—and introduces drinkers to raspicello and orangecello, and the walnut and hazelnut liqueur Nocello. Each flight of grappa, meanwhile, is a chance to compare New World and more complex Old World styles side by side.
“I can’t say that everyone who tries grappa likes it,” says Deinse, who loves the dolce vita decadence of sipping digestifs. “But I can explain why someone like myself goes crazy over it.”