Anthony Scalabrino has spent nine-plus years as a Naval Officer before he decided to shift gears and turn his attention to his side project and his Sicilian Grandma's (Grandma Scal) Amaretto recipe, that jump-started Oak City Amaretto. A closely guarded family secret, the original recipe, tweaked here and there, is still used to create North Carolina's only Amaretto liqueur. The all-natural ingredients, the result is a liqueur that is smooth, nutty, and exceptionally well balanced.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I am a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Class of 2010. I flew the P-3C Orion, which is an anti-submarine, surveillance, reconnaissance, and drug interdiction airplane. I served in large and small unit leadership as a Naval Officer for nine years and seven months and recently resigned on December 31, 2019. I am currently a sales engineer for CloudFactory while I grow Oak City Amaretto.
What made you take the plunge and start Oak City Amaretto?
I wanted to be my own boss someday and have a creative mind. I love the leadership opportunities the military afforded me, but I wanted something different and more creative. I finally took the leap instead of thinking what if.
Tell our readers why the recipe is so unique and why it may differ from other Amarettos?
For starters, Oak City Amaretto is a secret recipe, authentic to my Sicilian Grandmothers recipe that she made for family and friends her entire adult life. We source all-natural, American ingredients providing a smooth flavor, no overt sweetness, bitter aftertaste or alcoholic burn. You really get a the full almond flavor with our Amaretto.
What is your strongest memory of Amaretto?
The entire concept of Grandma Scalabrino making bottles of Amaretto for family and close friends at Christmas time every year. It was a time for gathering, thanksgiving and toasting of the accomplishments, relationships, and memories we had gathered over the past year. Grandma Scalabrino was a true matriarch of the family and a role model who helped guide my Christian faith.
Are you the only NC Amaretto?
Yes, if you go by the definition of Amaretto. There are some nut flavored moonshines, but I wouldn't call them Amaretto.
What has been your greatest challenge along this journey?
Staying mentally positive. Being an entrepreneur is tough and exhausting. It is certainly worth it if you have a dream or goal to achieve.
What are you most proud of?
Achieving my life long goal of becoming a Naval Pilot.
3 reasons you love North Carolina?
The people (how genuine and accepting they are), the various cultures that bring great food and the amazing types of terrain/outdoor activities from the mountains to the beaches.
How has your business changed and adapted since COVID-19?
We didn't see a decrease until recently. Due to the strict laws, there is not much we can do other than adapt our marketing and seek alternatives to in-person tastings and events.
What are you drinking now?
Currently drinking a Double IPA from an NC brewery as I write this :) I have a stocked whiskey cabinet and enjoy trying different things.
How do you best enjoy Oak City Amaretto?
I love it on the rocks because you get the true flavor profile. My favorite Amaretto cocktails are:
2 Oz Bourbon
.5 Oz Oak City Amaretto
4 dashes of bitters (I am partial to Crude Bitters: play with any of their house made bitters)
4 Oz Ginger Beer (substitute w/ Ginger Ale is fine)
2 Oz Amaretto, and a fresh squeeze of lime to taste.
What are you reading?
Lots of documents on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for my "day" job, however, I may start into some leadership/sales books for fun... yes I enjoy reading some self-help books
3 songs on your playlist?
I've been on a "Marianas Trench" kick lately, so anything from them. Some Hawaiian music while I work or study (I used to be stationed there and love the culture), and occasionally some 50s sock hop music ( I swear I was born in the wrong generation for music).
What's your favorite quote?
"Those who think they can't and those who think they can are both usually right" - Confucius