“People are always asking me if I want to come over and rake their lawn,” says Dick Garofalo, laughing. These lawns are full of walnuts, which the 77-year-old forages to make walnut liqueur. All of the walnuts used in Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs’ Francesca Inzero Red come from the fields and lawns of Northern Virginia. In fact, the walnut tree near the house he and his wife bought almost 45 years ago became the impetus of his encore career.
Garofalo first became enamored with liqueurs as a child, stealing sips from his grandmother’s homemade brandied cherry. And when his grandmother was a child, she was also brought up in a tradition of drink-makers. Her parents owned an inn and made their own wine. When she immigrated to New York, she continued making wine, selling to other Italian families in the neighborhood. But then Prohibition “made her a bootlegger overnight,” Garofalo says. He loves that line, laughing as he talks about the wanted poster he hung in his tasting room with a picture of his grandmother.
Garofalo took up his family’s tradition when he saw the walnut tree and soon experimented with all sorts of liqueurs—blueberry, apricot, alpine strawberry—some inspired from his grandmother, others completely his. He’s not technically a distiller, though he has a distiller’s license. He macerates and infuses and purchases neutral grain spirit, which he guesses costs him four times less than if he invested in a still and all of the equipment and materials it’d take to make his own base. “At this point I have no interest in making a vodka or a whiskey,” says Garofalo.“I’m in love with what I do.”
• Night Life Coffee
• Ginger Lime
• Francesca Inzero Red
• Tart Cherry
Tasting: $6, waived with purchase
Purchase: On-site and in ABC Stores
Address: 830 N. Kent St., Winchester