Front Desk — FDDC September 2013
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Viva La Liqueur!
Katie Wilmeth

Francesco Amodeo is bringing the best of Italy to DC with his authentic liqueurs and Italian charm.

Perhaps it’s a cliché to say that all Italians are passionate people, but it’s difficult not to succumb to the stereotype with stories like that of Francesco Amodeo. The Amalfi Coast native moved to the District on a whim in 2006, after falling in love with the city during a vacation to celebrate his 23rd birthday.

“I loved it,” says the dreamy Italian of his adopted city. “So I packed my bags and moved here from a town of 800 people.”

What followed was a whirlwind courtship with the city’s burgeoning creative cocktail scene, culminating in the January launch of Don Ciccio & Figli, an artisanal liqueur company based on the more than century-old recipes of Amodeo’s grandfathers.

Amodeo—who got his start as a cashier in his uncle’s picturesque seaside restaurant in Positano and later worked as a master sommelier in some of Italy’s best restaurants—quickly found success in DC. His résumé includes management stints at Hook, Café Milano and, most recently, beverage program director and GM at Bibiana Osteria Enoteca.

While moving up the ranks, Amodeo was also making and mixing his own artisanal liqueur flavors. With patrons repeatedly returning specifically for his drinks—and asking where they could Purchase the liqueurs—Amodeo decided it was time to remake his family’s business in America.

Amodeo got both of his grandfathers’ blessings—and a leather-bound book with 45 family liqueur recipes—and launched the business in DC.

Operating out of a nondescript “wet house” off Georgia Avenue, Amodeo makes 20 cases at a time during a painstaking three-week process that produces, for now, six different liqueurs. Amodeo makes the traditional limoncello, a popular Italian after-dinner aperitif, as well as more exotic flavors, like hibiscus and prickly pear.

All the liqueurs use authentic Italian ingredients and a few locally sourced fruits. The flavors are now available at liquor stores throughout the DC region, and more than two dozen of the city’s hottest bars are using the liqueurs and Amodeo’s creative cocktail recipes on their menus. But one might say it’s the personalities, not the ingredients, that give his cocktails a kick.

“I believe every cocktail has attitude just like an Italian woman,” says Amodeo, who names all of his recipes after feisty Italian femmes.

Amodeo has plans to increase the number of Don Ciccio & Figli flavors, as well as expand up the East Coast, but it’s DC that he remains passionate about, he says. “This is my love letter to the city.”

Don Cicc io & Figli in DC

Here, the watering holes mixing it up with Amodeo’s liqueurs.

Acqua Al 2 212 Seventh St. SE,
202. 525.4375, acquaal2dc.com

Ambar 523 Eighth St. SE,
202. 813.3039, ambarrestaurant.com

Azur 405 Eighth St. NW,
202.347.7491, azurdc.com

Brasserie Beck 1101 K St. NW,
202. 408.1717, beckdc.com

Cafe Saint-Ex 1847 14th St. NW,
202. 265.7839, saint-ex.com

Daikaya 705 Sixth St. NW,
202. 589.1600, daikaya.com

The Gibson 2009 14th St. NW,
202. 232.2156, thegibsondc.com

Masa 14 1825 14th St. NW,
202. 328.1414, masa14.com

Ripple 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW,
202. 244.7995, rippledc.com
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