Frangelico and coffee. A no-brainer, right? But if that's your default preparation for the hazelnut-flavored liqueur, you're seriously missing out. The Italian brand (owned by Gruppo Campari since 2010) also makes versatile cocktails that pair well with food and aren't cloyingly sweet (hold the whipped cream, please). What better way to see for ourselves than on a warm summer evening at the restaurant Frankies 457, where Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis hosted a garden dinner celebrating the good life, Italian style.
Let's get the big questions out of the way first. Yes, De Laurentiis is stunningly gorgeous, surprisingly tiny, and packed with charisma, conveying genuine interest in the people she meets even at crowded press-dinner situations. (Trust me, it's a gift.) As celebrities go, she seems honest and approachable, with a passion for food and entertaining—which, along with her Roman childhood, makes her the perfect spokeswoman for a brand like Frangelico.
Each of the four courses (which featured one dish from Frankies, one from De Laurentiis) was paired with a Frangelico-based cocktail by the talented Micaela Piccolo of Tribeca bar Distilled. The drinks? Dangerously good, with the Sunset Sour being one particular standout. The dish we couldn't stop eating? De Laurentiis's Lemon Spaghetti with Jumbo Shrimp, decadent and light at the same time. The event inspired us to plan our very own Frangelico dinner party for those transitional weeks between late summer and honest-to-goodness fall. For those of you similarly inspired, we've included our two favorite recipes below.
THE SUNSET SOUR
Created by Micaela Piccolo of Distilled
½ part Frangelico
1 ¼ parts Wild Turkey bourbon
1 part fresh lemon juice
½ part spiced simple syrup
In a shaker tin, add all ingredients. Lock your shaker tin and dry-whip the cocktail for about 10 seconds, cooking the egg using the lemon juice acidity. Open tin and add ice. Shake again for about 10 seconds for temperature and dilution. Strain into a sour glass. Garnish with an Angostura spray and a touch of freshly grated nutmeg and serve.
LEMON SPAGHETTI WITH JUMBO SHRIMP
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
For the shrimp:
¾ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta:
1 pound spaghetti
⅔ cup olive oil
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest, from 1 large lemon
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons fried capers*
In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a single layer, add shrimp to the preheated pan. Cook for 3 minutes per side or until pink and cooked through. Set aside.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving the pasta water. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, lemon zest, and juice in a large bowl to blend.
Toss pasta with the lemon sauce, shrimp, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding ¼ cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the basil. Garnish with fried capers.
*Cook's Note: To fry capers, drain, rinse and dry the capers very well. Heat ¼-inch vegetable oil in a small straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers when you swirl it. You can make sure it is hot enough by adding one caper to the oil. If it immediately starts to sizzle and pop, the oil is hot enough. Add capers to the hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes or until they have popped open and are golden-brown and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the capers to a paper towel–lined plate and allow to drain before using.