Drioli - History
   To us modern-day collectors of "Drioli bottles" we are talking about the decorative, Italian hand-painted majolica decanters, and glass liqueur bottles, bearing the Drioli name, which were produced from the 1950's through to the 70's. In reality though, the company and name of Drioli dates back to 18th century Dalmatia, to a place called Zara (also known as “Zadar”), a port city which is now part of Croatia.

   The tradition of Liqueur production, from the Venetian period through history grew into a large industry with a high quality product sought after throughout Europe. The high quality is reflected in the fact that numerous European royal households enjoyed Liqueur from Zara, especially maraschino. It is here that Francesco Drioli first produced his liqueur made from maraschino cherry. The “Fabbrica di Maraschino Drioli di Zara” was established in 1759.

   When the Drioli Factory began industrially manufacturing liqueur, only its maraschino went out to conquer the world. This product was the reason King George IV of England routed his ships via Zara. Others who enjoyed this liqueur were: Russian Tsar Nikolai I, Napoleon I and his marshal, Marmont.


   The early glass Drioli bottles are collectable in their own right; long and square in shape, an aqua-green in colour and often with an elaborate impressed seal bearing on ornate Zara crest. These bottles were encased in a woven straw case to protect them during transportation, a feature which was subsequently used throughout their history . The standard, non-decorative Drioli miniature liqueur bottle was tall, slender and square in shape with a straw wrapper.

   During World War II, the city of Zara was destroyed. There is no easy way to describe what led to the complete destruction of the city of Zara. Even the 1,200 bombs that fell on Milan appear like a modest version of the rain of fire that wiped out the greatest ethnic conclave of the Adriatic coast.

   But Zara was destroyed, and so were the maraschino factories located in Zara: Casa Luxardo, Casa Gilardi (maraschino Stampalia), Liquore Romano Vlahov, and Drioli.





After the destruction of Zara, the Drioli company relocated to a place called Mira, near Venice. It is during this time after the war, during the 1950’s, that Drioli started to use fancy, hand-decorated ceramic bottles for their liqueur products, to be sold as souvenir giftware for the burgeoning package holiday market.
Apart from the very old glass & straw bottles, and the colorful figural ceramic bottles, Driolis also come in Murano Glass figural containers.

Little is known about this period, and why and when the company ceased business sometime in the 1970's.
All we know, as collectors, is that we LOVE the Drioli bottles, that they are mostly available in the UK, that no catalogue exists, making the “discovery” of a new bottle a very exciting experience. How many Drioli figurals are there? I don’t know, but I am more than eager to hear from you if you have one I do not have, and are willing to sell it to me.



Back to Drioli Homepage