Visit the Alberti Strega website
Strega was created in 1860 by guiseppe alberti in Benevento Italy. Like most spirits, there are a number of stories behind its origins. A wine merchant by trade, Alberti moved to Benevento after his father, a spice merchant, was imprisoned in the area by a ruling family that disliked him (things like this flew back in the day). Benevento was a major railway at the time and Alberti began exporting local wines to France. He made enough money through this endeavor to buy a few bars in the area, one of which was in the train station.
The more common and “official” story of Strega’s creation is that after his father was released from prison, they joined forces to create the herbal liqueur. Alberti’s father’s knowledge of spices helped shape the herbal ingredients that eventually became strega. As the story goes, Alberti began offering their creation in a lunch basket he served at the train station for travels. They called the liqueur strega, because Benevento was known as the city of witches (more on this below). Eventually word spread about the liqueur and the rest is history.
Perhaps the most interesting story starts out with Alberti and father searching the area for herbs to make elixirs.
While on their search they stumbled upon a witch who had been trapped under a fallen tree branch. They saved the witch and as a reward were presented with the “secret” recipe for Strega. They had to promise not to tell anyone else the recipe and could only pass it on to another family member shortly before death, so that the recipe would live on.
Laugh all you want, but the mandate of the witch from this story is still followed today. Only two people know the recipe and they are the only ones allowed to prepare the herbs for Strega. In fact, they supposedly have a secret “herb room,” where all the herbs are stored in a coded set of draws. Only these two know how todecipher the code to collect the correct herbs.
A final, and less exciting, story I’ve heard is that Alberti simply received the recipe from a monastery in the area. Apparently, monks seem to make some of the best booze and then give it to people to make in secret.