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Among the usual array of ales, wines and spirits, nestled in the glow behnd the bar at The Red Lion in Overton is a truly unique drink with quite some history.


For those who have never visited Brighton, the golden blend of Italian brandy with vanilla and citrus spice known as Tuaca will be new.

This flavourful spirit is hugely popular in Brighton, where landlord David lived and worked for several years.


Like our popular Thunder Vodka, Tuaca is a real alternative to the usual shot of Sambuca.

According to Annie Hopkins at Culture Trip: Tuaca’s 500-year-old recipe was originally blended in honour of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who ruled Florence during the Renaissance and donated generously to the artists who gave the period its vibrancy.

Made with a brandy sourced in Anagni, to the east of Rome, the honey-coloured spirit was revived in the 1930s by Gaetano Tuoni and Giorgio Canepa, who blended their surnames and came up with ‘Tuaca’.

After the Second World War, American soldiers who’d been stationed in Livorno were disappointed to find the drink they’d grown fond of in Italy seemed not to exist back home.


It wasn’t until the late 1950s that an importer from San Francisco got Tuaca over to the USA.

Fast-forward a few decades and leap back across the Atlantic to Brighton in the 1990s: Sammy Berry, just home from Colorado, is searching high and low for the drink that defined her time in the States along with best friend Cassandra.


Sammy’s boyfriend makes a bet with Cassandra’s brother – whoever can import a case of the precious liquid to England first will win a pricey bottle of champagne.

It was Sammy’s Danish-born boyfriend Poul Jensen who won the bet. He tracked down the Tuscan distillery run by Enrico Tuoni, a descendant of Gaetano, encouraged his mum to put on her best Italian accent and purchased two cases for £466.

Sammy and Poul soon took over the Saint James Tavern pub in Kemptown and could declare themselves the first bar in the city to serve Tuaca. A proud sign above the doorway still informs the drunk and merry that this was the spirit’s original Brighton home.


David is considering the very same style plaque in Overton. 

The spirit quickly became a best-seller at the pub, and word spread that here was the place to sample the elusive nectar.

Within a year, Tuaca appeared on drinks menus across Brighton, and today you can spot it on the back bar of 95 per cent of the city’s boozers.


Though why Tuaca’s popularity has yet to catch on in other UK cities remains a mystery.

Some people claim Tuaca is hangover-free and that it tastes like an ice cream topping.  Celebrity fans include Zoe Ball and Jamiroquai, with Brighton’s own DJ Fat Boy Slim allegedly once messaging Sammy and Poul to thank them for getting him ‘twackered’.

Tuaca’s one-time slogan makes an excellent mantra for your night on the tiles, "Starts chilled, ends warm, mysterious in the middle."

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