Extra Bitter Gajàrdo

The history of the Schiavo family and its "radical" spirits

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Extra Bitter Gajàrdo — Veneto Secrets

That of the Schiavo family, which for 5 generations, more precisely from 1669, has been involved in the distillation of grappas and liqueurs, is an alchemical tale linked to a DNA that starts from afar.
The dynastic origins date back, in fact, to the Schiavoni of Venice, legendary warrior soldiers of Dalmatian origin to whom the Serenissima for merits of service gave lands, as was the custom in those times, including those where the company is based today, in Costabissara in the province of Vicenza.

Romantically, the spread of cocktail spirits such as bitters, initially born in the 19th century as medicines, is due precisely to soldiers, sailors, and gentlemen of luck. They, in fact, needed to transport these elixirs in small bottles and used to find themselves drinking them in bars of nascent metropolises, such as the port of NY.

Since 1998 it is Marco Schiavo who has taken the reins of the company, bringing a real revolution in the world of Italian spirits. A change of course that started in 2010 when, taking up an old recipe of Prugna, one of the most distinctive Venetian liqueurs that spread with the Austro-Hungarian domination when drinking in official circles, he became passionate about “creative” infusions.

Extra Bitter Gajàrdo — Veneto Secrets

A lover of good drinking, especially Made in Italy cocktails such as Negroni and Americano, Marco accepts the challenge suggested by his friend Carlo, owner of a bar in Vicenza and expert mixologist, to expand his product line by creating an aperitif bitter top-of-the-range, in the old-fashioned way. In line with the company philosophy that seeks a product as natural as possible, without chemicals, Marco, with the help of his “dealer” of botanical herbs, begins a year of great experimentation, considering that there was no recipe to start with (it is known that all bitter recipes are secret, see the legend of the Campari one).

After 9 months the magic happens and from the long infusion of super top-of-the-range gentian, licorice, rhubarb, Sichuan pepper, Ceylon cinnamon, and Mexican cascarilla, Extra Bitter was born in 2013. As tradition dictates, against any logic of production costs, cochineal is used for the traditional red color, instead of chemical additives.

Extra Bitter Gajàrdo — Veneto Secrets

Very bitter, with very low sugar content, Extra Bitter is the most radical of the other bitters on the market. After an initial surprise, bartenders begin to love it, both for its unique taste and for its healthy digestibility, a quality which is appreciated above all “the day after”.

Given the success, in 2014 Gajàrdo Bitter was born, softer in taste, which in 2019 even won the award for “best bitter in the world” at the World Liqueur Awards in London.
Marco got a taste for it. In 2015, Gajàrdo Fernet Radicale was launched, the Italian amaro par excellence, chosen as the ingredient of another cocktail he loved very much, Hanky ​​Panky, created in 1929 at the Savoy in London by the legendary bartender Ada Coleman.

In 2016 it was the turn of the Gajàrdo Triple Sec Radicale, the ancestor of limoncello, made with lemon peel, lime, bergamot, sweet orange, bitter orange, and late Ciaculli mandarin, a Slow Food presidium, an ingredient used exclusively in fine pastry.

Having read what inspires the philosophy of the Schiavo family, it is easy to understand why they define themselves as alchemists, pastry chefs, cooks, and, “also”, liquorists.
Chapeau, shall we have a Negroni?

Why you will love it
To experience a real retro-taste product, just “well-made” as it used to be in the good old days, which will make you appreciate an original radical taste that over the years, with the advent of industrialization, we had lost.

Where to taste it
Book a visit to the showroom and company museum, where you can learn about the history of Schiavo and above all taste the products @ “Classico, bread and salami and wonders” which is only 200m away!

The perfect pairing
Venetian-style tapas, especially those based on noble “fat” proteins such as creamed cod or soft artisanal cured meats.

Further info
Azienda Schiavo

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