Posted on | September 25, 2014
Written by | Jeffery Lindenmuth
Certified organic & authentically Italian, this trio is winning over Americans.
Frank Guerrera was working as a finance executive when his passion for flavor, entertaining and healthy living inspired him to create a refreshing blood orange cocktail he dubbed Punzoné. That’s Italian for “punch.”
“I just love to entertain and I made this special cocktail that guests went crazy for,” recalls Guerrera. “They were asking me to bring it to their parties and encouraging me to make it available for sale.” That’s where most stories of home recipes end, but not for Guerrera, who spent six years navigating the laws of the U.S. and the geography of Italy to fulfill his vision for Punzoné Originale, launching it in 2012. Now, the same charisma and quality drinks that enamored his guests are attracting imbibers on a national scale.
The certified organic blood orange-flavored Punzoné Originale connects with consumers on multiple levels. Crafted by combining vodka with Sangiovese-based sangria from Abruzzi and blood oranges from Calabria, Punzoné reflects the creator’s passion for the best of Italy while tapping into the American appreciation for food and wine of real provenance.
Punzoné Originale is joined by Punzoné Lemoncino, a blend based on Chardonnay-based sangria and Sicilian lemons, marketed with the emphatic tagline “Not Lemoncello!” to avoid confusion with the much sweeter liqueur. The effort to source complex blends like these from organic ingredients presented huge challenges. “Every grape, every farm, every ingredient, has to be certified organic,” Guerrera says.
At 34 proof and SRP of $34.99/1L, the two Punzoné flavors fit comfortably with both the heath-conscious organic consumer and luxury spirits buyer. “This product is organic, but people feel good having it in their ice bucket for bottle service because it embraces the best of Italy, just like their art, architecture and cars,” he says. “These products are especially appealing to fashionable and sophisticated women, but I also know plenty of men who will enjoy a bottle.”
While Punzoné Originale and Punzoné Lemoncino are generally enjoyed on the rocks, or shaken with ice and strained, both products are equally at home as the foundation for a simple spritzer, or even sipped from a snifter and paired with a cigar, says Guerrera, who discovered the latter at the suggestion of actor Armand Assante “I can’t pigeonhole them! Over 70% of sales are off-premise, but there are also mixologists doing incredible things with these blended vodkas,” he adds.
The family is rounded out by Punzoné Vodka, an unflavored 80-proof spirit distilled from organic Italian-grown wheat and using Italian Alps water, retailing at $39.99/1L. “This product is all about quality—five times distilled and simple and clean, just like Italian food,” says Guerrera. Retailers have the most success when all three products reside with the vodkas, a practice encouraged by a three-product shelf talker. “The three products really complement each other, and the Italian vodka is a fairly unique proposition,” he says.
For the holidays, all three Punzoné expressions are available in a co-pack, forming the foundation for 30 drink recipes available at punzone.com. Or, you can simply combine the three in equal parts and shake with ice for an organic luxury cocktail that brings together some of the finest flavors from across Italy. What to call such a cocktail? The Punzoné Famiglia, of course.