We bought some rose water a few weeks ago and have been meaning to try it in a drink. After researching several cocktails featuring rose water, I came up with the gagliardo. In Italian, gagliardo means strong or robust, and I wondered what that would imply for this drink, apart from its three-ounce punch. Or maybe that’s the strength?

The gagliardo is supposed to be the signature cocktail of the Pozzo American Bar in Pavia, Italy, but I couldn’t verify that claim. Suppose I could travel to Italy to check it out, though. Yeah, that would be a hardship…

The recipe is simple and the drink presentation plain. The following makes one serving.

  • 2.5 oz vodka*
  • 1.5 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • 0.5 oz rose water

Combine ingredients over ice in a shaker and shake, rattle, and roll. Serve in a wide-rimmed glass. Garnishes could include lemon slices, orange slices, or a skewer of in-season fruits and berries.

*One variant recipe I found suggested using peach-flavoured vodka. I think this would muddy the taste of an already complex assembly, but you might enjoy experimenting.

The verdict: Opinions were mixed. One of us liked this cocktail, while another found the rose water overwhelming. (As with the use of flavoured vodka, one could adjust the basic recipe to taste.) The gagliardo is definitely a slow-sipping cocktail, and the first sip is quite snappy. Because our kitchen was so warm, I added a small ice cube to each glass, and the extra water helped to mellow the sourness. We strongly recommend appies with this cocktail. But before you sip, take a moment to appreciate its strong rose scent, which reminded me of summer. Cheers!


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