Orange You Glad

You won't regret the Vasco di Lemma

Have you ever enjoyed a sip of limon-cello after a hearty Italian dinner? It’s a refreshing digestif, but it begs the question: Why postpone the deliciousness to the end of the meal? With the Vasco di Lemma at Osteria Papavero, you don’t have to.

The cocktail features orangecello, one of the fruit liqueurs popular in southern Italy.

“Basically every family makes one and every family swears by its own recipe,” says Kevin Trottier, the restaurant’s front-of-house manager.
Trottier has been mixing ’cellos for three years, using oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and kumquats, adding spices to enhance the flavors. When he incorporated them into cocktails, diners started ordering them before their meals.

A balance of flavorful orangecello, buzzy Cinzano Bianco (an Italian vermouth), crisp vodka and light prosecco, the Vasco di Lemma is fun to drink—and to order.

"The name is a play on ‘Vasco de Gama,’” Trottier says. But in addition to the Portuguese explorer, the cocktail also pays homage to Vasco, one of chef Francesco Mangano’s twin boys. (Brother Giuseppe also has a namesake drink: Beppe’s Blunder, made with Death’s Door gin and St. Germain.)

RECIPE: Vasco di Lemma

Combine 1 oz each of vodka, Cinzano Bianco and orangecello in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with prosecco. Serve with a twist of orange. 

Recipe courtesy of Osteria Papavero, 128 E. Wilson St., 255-8376,

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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