Rosolio (aka Rosoli) used to made from the herb called “sundew” (Drosera rotundifolia), aka “Rosa Solis.” It used to be made entirely from juice from this herb.
Now, it is a generic name for sweet, aromatic, syrupy cordials or liqueurs with low alcohol content, often homemade, even orange and lemon ones.
When a Rosolio is made from fruit, a syrup is extracted from the fruit, then mixed with a grain alcohol. Herbs and spices may be added to the mix.
- Rosolio all’Arancia (orange)
- Rosolio di Cannella (cinnamon)
- Rosolio di Fichi d’ India (aka Prickly Pear Cactus fruit, aka Pitaya Fruit)
- Rosolio di Alloro (made with Bay Leaves)
- Rosolio al basilico (basil)
- Rosolio alle more (blackberries)
- Limoncello (made from lemons)
When it is made from fresh red rose petals, it is called just Rosolio, or Rosolio di Rose. This version is red, and has an alcohol content generally between 22% and 24%. It is made by soaking rose petals in alcohol.
The cinnamon version of Rosolio, “Rosolio di Cannella”, can range up to 42%. It is browner in colour.
The classic one is thought of as the red one made from rose petals. Assume this is the one meant unless otherwise specified.
Rosolios can be used as an after-dinner liqueur or liqueur at any time of day, as an ingredient in desserts and sweets, as a sauce to be poured on ice cream or gelato, etc.
To make your own:
Both preparation and storage vessels need to be very clean, and you need something to filter it through, such as a coffee filter, or butter muslin. It’s best to filter it twice.
Allow for aging time.
Place in a large, sealed jar 2 oz / 50 of fresh rose petals, 1 vanilla bean and 1 quart (1 litre) of 95% alcohol. Let sit for 2 weeks. Then bring to a boil 3 ¼ cups (800 ml) of water mixed with 1 pound (450 g) of white sugar until it forms a syrup. Strain the alcohol, discard the petals and vanilla bean. Mix the alcohol with the sugar syrup, pour into a large jar, seal, and let sit for another two weeks. At the end of that time, filter it through a fine cloth or coffee filter, and bottle.
Rose water for flavour, or for a closer approximation, rose water mixed with some vodka and some sugar syrup.
Some sources speculate that the making of Rosolio may have originated in Lombardy, but it’s difficult to imagine that it owes its origin to any one place and time in Italy.
“Rosolio” may have came from the Latin expression “ros solis”, meaning “dew of the sun.”
The name, some speculate, may also come from “olio di rose” or “rosae olium” (rose oil.)