Alkermes: A Tuscan liqueur that was originally produced in Florence in the time of the Medici Family. The liqueur is spicy sweet and has a color somewhat like grenadine syrup. Alkermes is used in a variety of Tuscan desserts, especially Zuccotto, the cake that reminds one of the color and shape of Brunelleschi's dome on the cathedral in Florence.





This recipe, by Giuliano Bugialli,  makes about 7 cups of Alkermes----You only need 1/4 cup for making 8 pounds of Mortadella di Prato! Adjust the recipe accordingly.

To prepare the Alkermes, place all the spices except the vanilla bean in a marble mortar and grind them with the pestle. Cut the vanilla bean into five pieces. Place the ground spices and vanilla pieces in a glass jar with screw top. Add the grain alcohol or the vodka and 1 cups cold water, then close the jar and let it stand for one week, shaking the jar once a day.

When ready, dissolve the sugar in the remaining 2 cups of cold water. Add the water with the dissolved sugar to the jar, cover and let rest for one more day, shaking twice during this period. Strain the contents of the jar through a coffee filter into large crockery or glass bowl. Add the rose water to the bowl then transfer the contents to two bottles. Close the bottles and let rest for one more day.

3 cups

Water, cold

875.0 ml

1 lb.


795.0 g

3 cups


750.0 ml


Rose water


5 tsp.


  12.0 g

5 tsp.

Coriander seeds

  10.0 g

1 tsp.

Cochineal dye1

   7.0 g


Orange peel, dried

   5.0 g

1 tsp.

Anise seed

   3.0 g

1 tsp.


   3.0 g

1 tsp.

Cloves, whole

   2.5 g


Cardamom pods

   1.5 g


Vanilla bean


1 Cochineal is a natural red dye available at stores that sell fabric dyes.  One on-line source is Dharma Trading Company. Cochineal is used in this recipe more for its color rather than its flavor, so you can substitute a good quality red cake-decorating  paste dye mixed in one and a half teaspoons of corn syrup.


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