Ponce alla Livornese began in Livorno in the second half of the 17th century thanks to the sailors of the British Royal Navy who introduced Punch to the Port of Livorno. But the rum that the British sailors mixed with tea, sugar and lemon was an expensive luxury at that time, having only just begun to be imported from the West Indies. For this reason, the Livornese replaced the rum with a mixture of alcohol and caramel, which they called Rum Fantasia. But that wasn’t the end of it. As a result of the Leggi Livornine passed in 1593 by Ferdinando I De’ Medici which conceded political protection and tax exemption to anyone wishing to settle in Livorno, many Sephardite Jews seeking refuge from persecution in Spain came to the city. Free to exercise trade with the Far East, the Jews were the first to import coffee into Europe, precisely through the Port of Livorno. Once the Livornese people got to know this new drink with its unmistakeable aroma, it didn’t take them long to start using it in their Ponce to replace the tea which was not flavoursome enough for the Mediterranean palate.
As a final touch, they secretly added the prohibited mastice liqueur, made by soaking green anise seeds in alcohol. To make Ponce alla Livornese, you need a typical small, squat glass with a heavy base, known as a gottino. Into this place one teaspoon of sugar and as much Poncino liqueur as it takes to reach the upper part of the semi-circular design around the glass. Next add a small piece of lemon zest and, after heating the mixture using the steam nozzle on your espresso coffee machine, fill to the top with espresso coffee.