Italian icons will tickle Indian palates

Gruppo Montenegro, a leading Italian spirits and food manufacturer, is extending its global footprint to India with the launch of its flagship brands: Amaro Montenegro, Vecchia Romagna, Select Aperitivo and Rosso Antico.

According to Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO of VBev, the India distributor of the iconic Italian brands, India is gaining international recognition as one of the largest alcoholic beverage markets in the world by both manufacturing and consumption. There is also a significant rise in the sale and consumption of premium beverages.

“As the cocktail culture is evolving in India, we believe that Amaro Montenegro and Select Aperitivo will become preferred ingredients for Indian bartenders as observed in the 70 other countries that Gruppo Montenegro has entered,” he feels.

Amaro Montenegro, perfected in 1885, is celebrated as the world’s best liqueur, featuring the essence of 40 botanicals from around the globe. The signature complex taste is characterised by a pleasing blend of sweet and bitter notes, smooth texture and low ABV, which can add a flavourful twist to classic drinks.

It retails for Rs 3,360 in Mumbai, and Rs 3,450 in Delhi.

Select Aperitivo, founded in 1920, is a classic Venetian aperitif and the key ingredient of the Venetian Spritz. The recipe is made by blending 30 botanicals from around the world to create a refined aromatic profile and balanced bittersweet taste. It retails for Rs 3,550 in Mumbai, and Rs 2,620 in Delhi.

Vecchia Romagna brandy was the official supplier of Napoleon’s court. Today, 200 years later, Vecchia Romagna is Italy’s number one brandy. It sells for Rs 2,465 in Mumbai.

The Gruppo Montenegro team was in India recently to raise awareness and engage with consumers and bartenders over the course of a week. The activities have led to the engagement and trials with over 200 bartenders.

Gruppo Montenegro’s Global Brand Ambassador, Rudi Carraro, is overwhelmed and elated by the feedback and participation of the Indian market around the introduction of these iconic brands. “I am super excited to have been able to see India’s bartending scene, and very grateful that the country has welcomed me and the Gruppo Montenegro portfolio in such a wonderful way,” he says. Excerpts from Brews&Spirits’ interview with Rudi:

Could you tell us something about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Italy, not far from Venice. I started my career as a bartender in a local bar when I was 17. I moved to London at the age of 20.

At 21, I joined the team at the Artesian Bar. While I was there the bar won for 4 consecutive years the World’s Best Bar award by 50 Best Bars. Most of what I know regarding bartending comes from this experience.

What significance do the products hold in the international beverage community?

Both Amaro Montenegro and Select Aperitivo are a must to have behind the bar. They are very versatile and so delicious that you can really use them to create some outstanding original recipes.

Amaro is an under-developed category in India. How do you plan to get the premium on-trade in India to adopt it?
Our aim is to train people on the Amaro Montenegro flavour profile by making sure that bartenders will encourage their consumers to try and love it from the very first sip.

Moreover, Amaro Montenegro contains a lot of well-known flavours to the Indian palate, such as cloves, cinnamon, coriander and many others.

What are some signature serves you would recommend with these products?
Monte & Tonic, Monte Negroni and Monte Manhattan. Also Select Spritz, the original Venetian Spritz!

What is the best way to enjoy these labels at home?
Amaro Montenegro for sure is best enjoyed neat or in a Monte & Tonic. Select Aperitivo is best enjoyed in the recipe of the Original Venetian Spritz.

Do you plan to take the Spritz route in India too with Select? We are intrigued by the choice of green olive as garnish.
Yes, we are indeed! Select is the original and, therefore, the perfect ingredient to make the Original Venetian Spritz. It is the premium alternative in the market and, thanks to the complexity of the recipe and the very balanced flavour profile, it really is the best bitter aperitivo for your Select Spritzes and bitter cocktails.

The olive symbolises the Venetian tradition of enjoying a Select Spritz with some typical Venetian finger food: Cicchetti!

What would be your advice to bartenders seeking a career as brand ambassadors?
I think the role of brand ambassador is a figure that, in the last few years, has changed a lot towards a more commercial approach, rather than just marketing and on-trade relationships.

Nowadays if you want to be an ambassador you must have selling skills and a lot of ideas to keep the trade engaged with your brands.

What’s your favourite bar and why?
Being Ambassador for Gruppo Montenegro means loving your brand equally. But I can say that I am really proud to represent a Venetian brand like Select around the world!