I was at Luca again tonight. The second time in a week, and I really love this restaurant. Tonight it was a chance to capture the Aperitivo moment, in a collaboration between Luca and Martini. I am quite a fan of vermouths and bitters, and cocktails based on these, so this was a fun prospect.
The aperitivo moment is the time in the day when you wake up your appetite while spending time with friends in the early evening. It’s a niche that Vermouth filled pretty well in Italy, in Turin where Martini was born.
People would gather and have their small glass of Vermouth while passing time before dinner. Now, people want lighter ways of drinking rather than neat Vermouth, which is the concept behind this special Luca x Martini aperitivo menu. Cocktails were created by Martini and Luca’s Rob Simpson, while the food was devised by Robert Chambers of Luca and Matteo Baronetto of Turin’s Del Cambio.
Classic Martini Negroni Cocktail — a blend of Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino, Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter and Bombay Sapphire Gin. The botanicals have been chosen by the same herbalist to blend together well. This was tasty: not too showy, quite grown up.
An Italian twist on a classic British theme, the Scotch olive combines a time-honoured aperitivo option, green olives, encased in succulent rabbit sausage meat, seasoned with summer savory and Calabrian chilli and coated in breadcrumbs.
Amalfi Spritz: made made with classic Italian Limoncello and herb soda, complimented with the Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato vermouth.
Lettuce leaf with citrus mayonnaise and dried green olives. A spread of crisp lettuce leaves doused at the ends with a creamy, citrus-infused English mayonnaise and a grating of traditional Italian dried green olives adding extra flavor and crunch.
Piedmonte Fizz, made with Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato, Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice gomme syrup and absinthe, topped with soda and a sprinkled olive/salt rim.
Veal marinated in chestnut honey, served with English pickled radishes. A seasoning traditionally used for preserving food in North-Eastern Italy, the sweetness of chestnut honey, which the veal is marinated in for four days, presents strong and aromatic notes, whilst also keeping the meat firm and tender. Served with pickled English radishes.
The San Pietro is a unique mix of samphire-infused Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato and tomato skin-infused Bombay Sapphire gin, making the notes match perfectly with the seasoned tomato dish. This was quite savoury and delicious.
Tomato tart, with salted green peach and gentlemen’s relish. A reimagining of tomato and anchovies tart, this dish uses the old British seasoning called gentlemen’s relish, based on anchovies, and under-ripe green peaches, which have been brined and treated like traditional Italian olives.
The Pedlar: Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter topped with grape cider, served over ice.
The aperitivo is available until 4th October, priced at £35
The Martini Riserva Speciales:
Ambrato Vermouth: complex, rich, sweet and very spicy with a bit of bite and fine herbal notes. Lovely intensity here with citrus, apple and pear fruit.
Rubino Vermouth: Nebbiolo-based but quite deep in colour, with some sweetness offset by fine spicy notes and some orange peel character. This has lovely smooth raspberry, strawberry and cherry fruit as its core.
Riserve Speciale Bitter: cherry red in colour, this has beautiful floral notes, and is sweet and concentrated. But then on the palate lovely fine, spicy bitterness unfurls. It’s really harmonious, and the bitterness integrates really well. Finishes long and spicy.