Fil da Fer

January 29, 2010 / Food & Wine
Piedimulera, Piemonte

fildafer1The winters in the north of Italy are long and cold, and the mountain people who lived there, although hearty and quite used to the harsh elements, needed special fortification now and then to stay warm. For this, they long ago invented a drink they called, in their local Piemontese dialect, Fildafer. (Filo di ferro literally means string of iron, the Italian term for bailing wire.) They drank the liquore hot, and so the name could be thought to apply to the warm feel it gave in the throat while drinking, or maybe to the bright, red-hot color of the opaque liquid, or maybe it is a reference to the sensation of strength it gave them, at least temporarily.

fildafer2It’s a strong concoction of whiskey rye, milk, sugar, egg yolks, marsala, and if it was available, just a hint of vanilla. All would be blended together over heat and slowly consumed.

Today a local distillery in the foothills of Monte Rosa produces Fil da Fer using that same recipe, and it’s popular among a different kind of mountain people. Skiers, snowboarders, and others partaking in outdoor winter sports have discovered the drinks warming qualities, making it the perfect warm-me-up to hold and drink while sitting around a fire after a few runs.

Dana Kaplan

by Dana Kaplan

Freelance writer, proofreader, and copyeditor. Author of StresaSights, a great blog about a beautiful town.

6 Responses to “Fil da Fer”

  1. Barbara Goldfield

    The Sardinian version is called ‘filu e’ferru’ and the name was coined by the bootleggers who produced this aqua vitae illegally. They hide the bottles by burying them with pieces of iron wire wrapped around them, making them easily identifiable.

  2. While skiing in Madonna we drank something very similar but I believe it was called Bombardino

  3. Harold Brown

    I doubt I can purchase this locally. Is there a recipe I can follow to make some myself?

  4. I’ve had several requests and mails asking where the fil da fer can be purchased… if it is available in the US. I’ve written to the distillery to find out, as my own research turned up nothing. I’ll post the response, if I receive one, here and on the Stresa Sights blog. As for the Bombardino, si, it does seem to be a similar drink. And as for a recipe, alas, I cannot find one with the ratios needed. Top secret I suppose… Try this one however, it is the Veneto version, called VOV..



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