When it’s chilly weather in Italy, there is nothing better than a hot drink to warm you up.
In the morning, that likely means a coffee of some sort - there are many choices, including cappuccino, espresso, machiatto.
Or, it may mean a cup of tea (yes, there are lots of tea drinkers in Italy) or even an Italian-style hot chocolate (thick and creamy, almost a pudding).
But come late afternoon, something with a bit more punch might be in order.
Ponce is just that - a bit of alcohol served as a hot drink. Ponce Livornese is the most well-known form of ponce. Unique to the city of Livorno, Ponce Livornese is a type of caffe`corretto (a “corrected” coffee, which means there is alcohol added). It is made with equal parts of espresso and rum and a spoonful of sugar. It’s then finished with a small twist of lemon peel. It’s classically served in a clear glass cup. No sipping with this drink - down it fast while it’s hot. This really does pack a punch!
A different kind of ponce is a Ponce Mandarino. This is also a cold weather drink but it is not made with coffee. Ponce Mandarino is the name of the liquor - a citrus-flavored concoction, relatively low in alcohol content and slightly sweet - and the name of the drink.
To make a Ponce Mandarino, the liquor is steamed (using the nozzle on the espresso machine) and then a twist of orange peel is added. The hot liquor gives off a strong fume, so watch out if you are tempted to sniff this just after steaming - it definitely clears the sinuses. Ponce Mandarino is served in a clear glass cup, often with a handle. The bright orange presentation is pretty and fills in for the bright orange aperol spritz, which will begin to appear once the weather warms up.
Cheers! -post by JMB
Bar Mara Meo in Lucca makes a pretty Ponce Mandarino.