Strega (or Liquore Strega), is an Italian herbal liqueur produced since 1860 by the S. A. Distilleria Liquore Strega in Benevento, Campania, Italy. Its yellow color comes from the presence of saffron in its recipe. Liquore Strega is 80 proof (40%) and among its approximately 70 herbal ingredients are mint and fennel. Strega is considered a digestif, meant for drinking after meals.
Strega has a similar appearance to Galliano (though less vibrantly yellow). It is slightly sweet, semi-viscous, and has a bold, complex flavor with strong minty or coniferous notes. Strega is used for flavoring torta caprese, a type of cake.
Strega is the Italian word for "witch" and since legends of witchcraft at Benevento date back to the time of the Lombard invasion, it was a natural choice of name for the liqueur. The liqueur is sometimes called "the witch" in the English-speaking world.
The Premio Strega (Strega Prize), the most prestigious literary award in Italy today, was founded in 1947 by Guido Alberti, then owner of the company, together with his friends the writer Maria Bellonci and her husband Goffredo.
The San Francisco World Spirits Competition—one of several international spirit ratings organizations—has evaluated Strega on three occasions since 2005. The ratings organization gave the spirit gold medals in 2005 and 2011 and a silver medal in 2008.
References in Film and Literature
In the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, it's said that Strega is to be enjoyed after a romantic meal, with the adage, "Once you drink Strega together, you will never drink it apart."
In the film Made (2001), Vince Vaughn's character, Ricky, orders a Strega when he and Bobby (Jon Favreau) meet up with Ruiz (Sean Combs). Ruiz says, "It's midnight and this motherfucker is ordering an aperitif." "Actually, with all due respect, it — Strega, that is — is a digestif," replies Ricky.
In the Ernest Hemingway book A Farewell to Arms, after a night of drinking with his Italian friends, the protagonist, Henry, returns to his quarters where his roommate, Rinaldi, offers him a drink. Henry says, "Not Strega." Rinaldi counters, "No. Grappa."
Strega is also mentioned in the 1962 movie Rome Adventure with Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette and is credited in the movie as making one feel "golden."