Emilio Rocchino came to Sardinia from Salerno in 2006 looking for work and began bartending in the famous town of Porto Rotondo on the Costa Smeralda, a popular vacation spot for the rich and famous. He went on from there to bartend in Milan before returning to Sardinia and working with a spirits producer on the island making various traditional Sardinian spirits and developing a line of spirits for them. It was here that his creativity flourished and he began to develop his own recipes. His first idea was to make a Torino-style red vermouth using Sardinian ingredients including the famous Sardinian red-berried Mirto plant, in part to honor the historical connection between Piedmont and Sardinia. He says when vermouth was born in 1786 in Torino, Piedmont was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Emilio believes they used Sardinian Moscato wine as part of the blend. He has vermouth made to his recipe, partly in Sardinia and partly by a well-known vermouth producer near Asti, in Piedmont. Where possible he uses Sardinian ingredients, many of which are foraged (rather than cultivated), while the base wines come from both regions.
Under the Macchia line that he started in 2014 with red vermouth, he has since developed recipes for a white vermouth as well as a Sardinian gin and bitter. Ever the entreprenuer, in 2017 he opened a small bar and high quality spirits boutique called Spirits Boutique in Olbia, the charming and historic port town at the north-eastern tip of the island, the entry point for those visiting the Costa Smeralda; and later in 2019, he opened another bar called Spritz & Tonic, serving only Spritz and Tonic drinks using high quality spirits that he meticulously sources from Italy and around the world.
Credit: Oliver McCrum Wines & Spirits