The hard-nosed Corsicans have always maintained a mean independent streak. Despite their valiant nationalist efforts, the island has mostly been occupied throughout history, namely by the French, the Italians and even Britain. At the end of Napoleon’s rule in 1814, Corsica became a French territory after the British handed it back to the restored French monarchy. It remained a French territory until the Germans and Italians occupied it during WWII, a short-lived occupation as the Vichy government helped to push the Germans out in 1943.
The second half of the 20th Century witnessed a significant resurgence in Corsican nationalism that continues to play an influential role in the island’s politics. The party promotes the conservation of the Corsican language, which has suffered a rapid usage decline since the 1960s making it a protected language by UNESCO, the islands integrity in regards to an influx of tourism, and Corsican agriculture which produces delicious foods, wines and liqueurs.
CAP CORSE MATTEI
The staple Corsican aperitif was first enjoyed in 1872 and is classed as a quinquina, a type of aperitif wine whose main ingredients yield quinine, the same ingredient that the British originally used in mixing gin and tonics to fight malaria.
Cap Corse Mattei has one over 50 gold medals in international drinks competitions during its 150-year existence. Drink it straight up with a few ice cubes and a slice of orange.
Really? One of the most well-known cocktails in the world was created in Corsica? The issue has been disputed since the drink first became popular around the First World War. Most place its origins in Florence but the Corsican newspaper, Corse Matin, published an article in 1980 claiming that the drink was first mixed at a military officers club right before World War I by the General, Pascal Negroni.
This cocktail doesn’t particularly use Corsican ingredients but its creator chose the island as its namesake. In fact, like much of Corsican history, it is a mixture of French and Italian alcohols. The following recipe yields enough cocktail for a group of people. Why not mix it on a Corsican beach?
- 13oz Lillet Blanc
- 7oz limoncello
- 3 1/2oz elderflower syrup
- 1 3/4oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 bottle sparkling water
Mix the liqueurs, syrup and juice in a sealable bottle and put in the refrigerator for 8 hours. When chilled, pour into a cocktail glass and top up with sparkling water and garnish with lemon slices.
Beer is not a traditional Corsican drink but an entrepreneurial family decided to change that in the 1990s by using one of the island’s most prevalent plants, the Chestnut tree. Corsican cuisine often employs a chestnut flour which the Sialelli family decided to use to make beer. After two years of research, trial and error, they came up with the delicious Pietra, named for a village in the region from which the family hails.