Anna Fill Interviews
An Interview with Philip Culazzo... The Monaco Tipple
Every season 15 tons of bitter oranges that once graced the trees on the streets of Monaco used to be picked and sent to be destroyed in an incinerator. This inspired local Monaco resident Philip Culazzo to plant his first pip to create something that was so Monte Carlo. Following a meeting with the Monaco government the venture to use the oranges to create Monaco's very own tipple 'L'Orangerie', was born.
Philip Culazzo was born in Ireland and spent many years living in the Principality. Philip wanted to create a product that was pure and organic with no additives. The alcoholic drink was the perfect authentic product for both locals and tourists to enjoy. After the usual issues of finding premises to produce the liqueur, in December 2016 he successfully produced his first 1,500 bottles of L'Orangerie.
We spoke with Philip to find out more about his venture and future ambitions...
1. Do you recall that eureka moment when you thought of making the liqueur and what inspired you?
Philip: Yes indeed - knowing Monaco since my earliest years (my father is from Bordighera) and having lived in Monaco for quite some time, I had been trying to develop a product that was genuine and truly reflected the terroir of Monaco. An article in Monaco Matin mentioned the bitter orange harvest, and that many of the oranges were going to the incinerator....so I made contact with the Government, and the spark was ignited.
2. What kind of feedback and support did you receive from the Monaco government?
Philip: The support was very much there from the start, due to the fact that these fragrant and delicious fruits were being wasted. Once the product was further along the line of development further support came from the Ministry of the Environment and the Interior, the Direction de l'Expansion Economique and then we had the honour of welcoming HSH Prince Albert to our atelier for a tasting.
3. What were/are the challenges in creating a large quantity of the drink?
Philip: The spaces in Monaco are very limited, so we have to be intelligent with our use of every inch of the atelier. This means producing small batches, which is also better from a quality control point of view.
4. How did you come up with the name and design?
Philip: The company name is Mont Charles, which of course, is Monte Carlo in French. This reflects our desire to create genuine products that are from the Principality. The name l'Orangerie was actually suggested by my brother, as grand homes usually included an Orangerie, which were a point of note - beautiful and elegant, which is what we hope is communicated by the design and product image.
5. What makes L'Orangerie so distinctive?
Philip: Well, firstly it is the only liqueur from Monaco, so that in itself makes it interesting. We try as hard as possible not to interfere with the natural taste of the fruit, so no chemicals, colourants or aromas are added. It is a completely natural, and hand made product.
6. How many bottles do you produce and how do you see the production growing in the future?
Philip: How many oranges would you say goes into one bottle? We estimate around 50,000 bottles and for the number of oranges it's hard to say, as the size of orange differs enormously depending on which tree they come from - some are smaller than snooker balls, and others the size of a grapefruit!
7. Where can you buy the liqueur?
Philip: You can buy directly from our Atelier, in the heart of the Condamine, next to Place d'Armes, at 9 rue de la Turbie. Alternatively the Wine Palace in Monaco and several other caves and even some restaurants sell it to take away (Le Castel Roc and Les Deux Freres to name two).
8. Who are your customers?
Philip: Restaurants, bars, hotels and beach clubs in Monaco and the surrounding areas. We have had plenty of interest from further afield which we hope to address very soon.
9. How is the best way to drink L'Orangerie?
Philip: It is best drunk chilled, on its own over ice, as an after dinner drink, or if not in a whole host of cocktails - we enjoy a Monaco Spritz, with prosecco, orange zest and ice, but many more adventurous recipes are out there to be discovered....!!
10. What are your future plans and ambitions for L'Orangerie?
Philip: We would love for every household in Monaco to have a bottle to enjoy with friends or visitors. We have many more plans to create products around the liqueur so watch this space.