Tuaca Liqueur is a popular vanilla liqueur that can be used to make some amazing cocktails. Originating in Italy centuries ago, it offers a brilliant spiced, herbal flavor against a brandy background, creating a very versatile mixer. It’s a premium liqueur that can be found in bars and liquor stores throughout the world and you’ll want to pick up a bottle to discover it for yourself.
The Italian liqueur’s roots date back 500 years to the time of Lorenzo (The Magnificent) de’ Medici (1449–1492). The legend is that the liqueur was created in his honor and that the patron of Italian Renaissance arts very much enjoyed drinking it.
The liqueur was lost for many years, though it’s unclear exactly how long. It was not until 1938, when brothers-in-law Gaetano Tuoni and Giorgio Canepa revived the recipe and began producing it in Livorno, Italy. The duo named the liqueur using a combination of their own surnames.
Officially called Tuaca Originale Italiano, the liqueur saw a rise in popularity during World War II. Soldiers found the liqueur to be one of their favorites while in Italy and when the Americans returned home they found that they missed it. It was in 1950 that the first bottles of Tuaca were imported to the United States.
Tuaca is now produced in Louisville, Kentucky and is part of the Sazerac Company’s family of distilled spirits. It remains one of the most popular vanilla liqueurs, though it’s sometimes forgotten and overlooked in comparison to the likes of Galliano L’Autentico.
How It’s Made
Like many liqueurs (especially really old ones), the recipe for Tuaca is a guarded secret. What we do know is that it begins with a blend of fine Italian brandies, aged between three and 10 years. The brandy is then flavored with vanilla and the essence of Mediterranean citrus, which makes it stand out from other vanilla liqueurs. The result is a gold-colored liqueur that is lightly sweetened, delightfully complex, and exceptionally smooth.
Tuaca is bottled at 35 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 70 proof) and is moderately priced, in line with similar premium liqueurs.
Tuaca is often served chilled and straight, either as a sipper or a shot. It also makes a nice flavor additive in coffee and hot apple cider. In fact, it’s the key ingredient to the hot apple pie, one of Tuaca’s best-known recipes in which it’s simply paired with cider and dressed up with whipped cream.
The liqueur has uses in rather complex cocktails as well. A perfect example is the peary bird, which pairs Tuaca with B&B in a vodka martini with fresh pear and nutmeg.
Tuaca’s unique taste should be taken into account when using it in cocktails that call for a vanilla liqueur. Though the citrus aspect is minuscule, you may want to cut a little of the citrus ingredient should a drink call for both ingredients. For instance, you can likely skip the lime entirely when pouring Tuaca in a vanilla martini or apple pie martini and reduce the Grand Marnier pour slightly in a mile high Manhattan