The Story

This after-dinner cocktail celebrates the complexity of Strega liqueur and the sugar rim provides a balance that brings out the lemon tartness of the drink, according to the creator, Erin Gutar, a mixologist from Haifa Israel, who says it is a “distant cousin of Sam Ross’ Paper Plane. It brings out the Strega in harmony with the other ingredients.

The cocktail is named after the magnificent painting by Francisco Goya. According to Wiki, Vuelo de Brujas, also known as Witches in Flight or Witches in the Air) is an oil on canvas painting completed in 1798 by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. It was part of a series of six paintings related to witchcraft acquired by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna in 1798. It has been described as “the most beautiful and powerful of Goya’s Osuna witch paintings.”

Witches in the Air, Francisco Goya

 Strega Liqueur (Liquore Strega) is an herbal Italian liqueur with a unique flavor and a distinctive bright yellow color. It’s a digestif (or amaro) made from a secret recipe that includes about 70 botanicals, most notably saffron, mint, and juniper berries. It hails from the town of Benevento, Italy and is also known as the “witches liqueur.” A very popular liqueur in Italy, it’s enjoyed on its own or in cocktails and has dedicated fans throughout the world.

Vintage Strega Travel Poster


The recipe from Difford’s Guide features Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, but I substituted a bit darker Amaro Averna Siciliana that works – the lemon juice is set off by that oh-so tasty sugary rim. 

The Recipe

What you need

Fresh Lemon for juice
Coarse sugar or granulated sugar
Ice cubes
3/4 oz Bourbon
3/4 ox Strega Liqueur
3/4 oz Italian Bitters such as Amaro Averna
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

What you do 

Moisten rim of chilled coupe glass with lemon wedge. 

Sprinkle sugar onto small plate, and dip moistened rim into the sugar to coat lightly.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients, cover and shake. 

Strain into chilled and rimmed coupe glass.

Take flight!

Patrick (Paddy) Moore

Patrick (Paddy) Moore is the author of the series Quarantinis, Eh? featuring cocktails that commemorate the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021.

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