alchermes (or alkermes) is of Arab origin liquor (as guessed from the spice with which is flavored), acquired by the Spanish and distributed first in Italy and then in France and elsewhere in Europe.
Alchermes is red, medium alcoholic (about 30 °) and quite sweet. Its basic ingredients are: water , cinnamon , cochineal ( red coloring additive of animal origin), mace , cloves , cardamom , vanilla , rose water , granular sugar and pure alcohol (95 °).


Alchermes ingredients (from Wikipedia)

  • 350 g of ethyl alcoholat 95 °
  • 350 g of sugar
  • 500 g of water
  • 5 g cinnamon sticks
  • 4 g of cochineal
  • 1 g of cloves
  • 1 g of cardamom

The alchermes recipe can also be reproduced at home; the procedure is simple:

  • leave the spices to maceratein alcohol and 2 dl of water, inside an airtight container, for about 15 days (shaking it twice a day).
  • Dissolve the sugar in 3 dl of boiling water and (after letting it cool) add everything to the macerate; let it rest for a day.
  • Filter and bottle adding rose water.

Discover the video recipe for Christmas biscuits – Peschine alchermes – below the preview of the video


Christmas cookies – Alchermes peaches

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Use of alchermes

Alchermes is a liqueur widely used in pastry for the preparation of baths, for soaking, for the coloring of bases and creams, etc.
At one time, alchermes was also widely used in direct consumption (especially by the female sex) but, both for the excessively ” caramel ” taste , and for a rejection of the cochineal dye ( extracted from insects), at the today it is no longer a customary drink.
In past centuries, alchermes has also played the role of “elixir” ( soothing and antispasmodic against pertussis , neuralgic diseases, renal colic and retention of) and vermifuge , but these were simply popular legends . To date, alchermes is still used (fortunately in an extremely localized way) as a remedy for “worms” in children who, according to certain equally folkloric beliefs, should arise as a result of major fright. Probably this is a diversion to be able to administer the ” sedative ” to children who are too capricious.

Nutritional Composition of Dessert Liqueurs – Reference Values ​​of the INRAN Food Composition Tables

Nutritional values

Edible part 100.0%
water 40.8g
Proteins tr
  Prevailing amino acids
  Limiting amino acid
Lipids TOT 0.0g
  Saturated fatty acids 0.0mg
  Monounsaturated fatty acids 0.0mg
  Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.0mg
  Cholesterol 0.0mg
TOT Carbohydrates 31.1g
  Starch 0.0g
  Soluble sugars 31.1g
Dietary fiber 0.0g
  Soluble fiber 0.0g
  Insoluble fiber 0.0g
Ethyl alcohol 28.2g
Power 314.0kcal
Sodium tr
Potassium tr
Iron tr
Football -mg
Phosphorus -mg
Thiamine 0.0mg
Riboflavin -mg
Niacin -mg
Vitamin A 0.0µg
C vitamin 0.0mg
Vitamin E 0.0mg

On the other hand, what appears certain and obvious is that the promotion of the consumption of alchermes (as spirits ) in the very young is absolutely contraindicated and inadvisable, as it predisposes the subjects to appreciate both the taste and the effects of nerve drinks .
Curious to learn that alchermes is present among the ingredients of a particular sausage: mortadella di Prato.


The term alchermes derives from the Sanskrit (Indian language) krmi-ja , which evolved into the Arabic al-qirmiz and the Spanish alquermes . Krmi-ja is intended as a “red drink” (as well as kermes and qirmiz ), from whose name the Latin-medieval terms crimson and carmine derive . In a literate sense, krmi-ja and qirmi z mean ” worm ” and “cochineal” ( Kermes vermilio ).
The first uses of the cochineal dye are to be found in Mesopotamia (2nd millennium BC); from here, it was then spread to Persia, Turkey and Palestine and finally to Europe (VIII century BC). It is not so easy to identify the historical period in which the recipe of the well-known liqueur was invented, but it is certain that in Italy the alchermes arrived thanks to the Spanish import (people who obtained the recipe from the Arabs themselves). In the Bel Paese, the production of alchermes is documented starting from the Middle Ages by the nuns of the Order of Santa Maria dei Servi (Florence). Later, the director of the workshop, friar Cosimo Bucelli, made official the original recipe (1743) handed down to the present day; the peak of sales and circulation would seem to be in the 19th century AD

Nutritional composition

On the INRAN food composition tables, alchermes is NOT a food in its own right but is listed under the heading Dessert liqueurs. There is not much to say about its composition: it is a spirit with a very high sugar and caloric content . Both simple carbohydrates and alcohol represent molecules with a highly insulin- stimulating power , which is why alchermes (like all liqueurs) is a potentially fattening drink. There are no chemical-nutritional qualities and the average recommended portion (so to speak) of the adult is about 125ml / day.


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