Long obscure, ‘Super Punch' may be poised for the big time | Pittsburgh City Paper

Long obscure, ‘Super Punch' may be poised for the big time

I'm obsessed with amari, and it was amazing to find one I've never heard of before."

The D'Andrea family of Penn Hills has been importing wine and spirits for more than 30 years. John D'Andrea, who now runs the business with his brothers Frank and Henry, says they've seen a lot of brands come and go. But one libation' s appeal has remained consistent: Jannamico Super Punch. And it may be poised for a breakout.

Company patriarch Joseph D' Andrea began importing the amaro early in the company's history. "He drank it all his life," says John D' Andrea. "It was big."

Super Punch stands out on the liquor shelf: It's housed in an extra-large bottle — a full litre compared to the standard 750 ml — and its label is a blaze of bright greens and fire-engine red on a jet-black background. The punch itself is thick and syrupy, the flavor an unexpectedly appealing mix of tutti-frutti, flowers and molasses. It' s best mixed with sparkling water — or, as D' Andrea recommends, with a pinch of salt to cut the pungency.  

For the last 30 years, Super Punch has enjoyed a niche popularity, mostly among the region's large Southern Italian population. "They all had it in their houses; still do," says D'Andrea. Italian restaurants are big customers too, he says.

But now, cocktail-focused bartenders are beginning to embrace Super Punch as well. After guest bartending at Tender Bar + Kitchen recently, Abraham Hawkins even took a few bottles home to New York, where he is head bartender at the amari-focused Dutch Kills bar. 

"I'm obsessed with amari, and it was amazing to find one I ve never heard of before," Hawkins says. "Plus, the label [a rough Italian-to-English translation] is pure poetry. It's pretty awesome stuff." 

He' s now serving a Super Punch, pineapple juice, lemon juice and soda-water aperitif.

John D'Andrea says he' s thrilled that a new generation of bartenders is embracing Jannamico. But he credits older fans with preserving its legacy.

"Ten years ago I tried to drop it," D' Andrea recalls. "I couldn't, because all the old Italian guys went crazy."