Amaros (and digestifs)

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nonino would be a good place to go next, it's grape-based and pretty soft. it's another one that's more, uh, premium priced. trying to think of cheaper bottles that are worth a look but a lot of them share that caramel color flavor that isn't intrinsically bad but makes them a little less interesting on their own or with soda.

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 16:18 (one year ago) link

It's funny, when I took my cert somm exam nonino was the producer I chose to recommend in case they asked for a grappa or amaro or eau de vie (since it filled 3 categories). I've had that before and ramazzotti, montenegro and then the main ones they sell everywhere like fernet, cynar. My spouse is going to Italy for work and I want him to bring back a couple of amaros but maybe he should go by label.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 16:30 (one year ago) link

let me see what else i have on the shelves. i think the next one i'm supposed to buy is nardini but i believe it had some anise notes...

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 16:35 (one year ago) link

I'm going on one of my Atlanta grocery runs soon (I think) and am worried about how much I'm going to spend in liquor stores. Definitely want to try Cynar and see what uncommon amari are available.

If Your Site Mod Vomits (Do This Every Day) (WmC), Friday, 11 January 2019 16:40 (one year ago) link

It says nardini has peppermint (not a huge fan of either). And Gentian which looks like a pretty blue flower whose root is used in amaros.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 16:43 (one year ago) link

cynar is just so good for everything. And not expensive.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 16:44 (one year ago) link

Oh hi. I love Cynar. That's a staple.

The ones I have at home right now are Aperol, Campari, Averna, Sfumato, Meletti, Nonino, dell'Erborista, Cinpatrazzo, and Letherbee Fernet. In the past, I've also owned CioCiaro, Ramazzotti, Montenegro, Zucca, Fernet Branca.

I think of Averna as fairly versatile, kind of a workhorse for cocktail use (it's in a lot of recipes) and also pretty good on its own. Sfumato and Zucca are really great -- they're rabarbaros (made from rhubarb) and have an intense smoky flavor. Meletti is sweeter than most and kind of orangey-chocolatey. I've been enjoying it lately. Dell'Erborista is complex but quite bitter, not my favorite to sip on (it's also rather expensive). Cinpatrazzo is interesting -- it's made from arugula -- but may be hard to find outside of Chicago, where it's made. It's been so long since I had CioCiaro, but in my memory it's kind of similar to Montenegro.

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:01 (one year ago) link

(Guess I should've said "the *other* ones I have at home," because I always have Cynar.)

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:02 (one year ago) link

A cocktail bar in my neighborhood has an Amaro Machine, which is basically the equivalent of an "infinity bottle" of whiskey, where they just periodically add different amari to an ever-changing mixture. Sometimes I try to replicate this at home by pouring a splash of a few different bottles into a rocks glass. I've rarely gone wrong.

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:07 (one year ago) link

lol, a suicide* for grownups. Would try.

*the drink

If Your Site Mod Vomits (Do This Every Day) (WmC), Friday, 11 January 2019 17:12 (one year ago) link

Cynar and aperol are staples in my house. Not a huge fernet fan but it's probably because it's everywhere where I am (and because of the licorice/mint). Dell'erborista was actually on my list of ones to try since it's made by the same family as Sibilla. I am putting the sfumato and zucca on my list, that sounds really good.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:15 (one year ago) link

xpost, ha they should make an amaro solera system with that.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:16 (one year ago) link

I wonder if everything in Italy now is exported.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:19 (one year ago) link

Nothing prepared me for the sheer volume of Fernet people manage to get through in Argentina.

I have a bunch of digestifs at home but they tend to be Eastern European. Rigas Balsam is an acquired taste. Unicum remains the second most vile thing I’ve ever drunk, after a Danish bitter liqueur whose name escapes me. If anyone comes across anything particularly good from that part of the world, let me know.

ShariVari, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:21 (one year ago) link

Becherovka is delicious and tastes like Christmas tbf.

ShariVari, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:23 (one year ago) link

a Danish bitter liqueur whose name escapes me

Gammel Dansk?

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:24 (one year ago) link

Me: You know what Unicum is made from?
Wife (sighs, has heard me make this joke a dozen times): What
Me: Unicorn cum

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:26 (one year ago) link

I can’t imagine Gammel Dansk is that bad but I think I still have the bottle at home so will look.

ShariVari, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:26 (one year ago) link

Tastes like xmas like speculoos or like pine?

thx for the links jaymc!

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:30 (one year ago) link

Unicum has a bottle that looks like someone graduated from wearing drakkar noir.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:32 (one year ago) link

I can’t imagine Gammel Dansk is that bad but I think I still have the bottle at home so will look.

We have a bottle of Gammel Dansk in our drinks cabinet as a "gift" from some friends' Danish holiday. Suspect the famed botanicals therein to include dandelion milk, baby shampoo and the stuff my parents painted on my fingernails when I was 5 to stop me biting them. It's a lot worse than Unicum imo.

a passing spacecadet, Friday, 11 January 2019 17:52 (one year ago) link

"Rigas Balsam is an acquired taste"

Oh, I think I bought a bottle of this from the Baltic shop in my town just to see what it was. Brown bottle, like some kind of Edwardian ceramic, not much bigger than a test tube? Or is there something else in a similar bottle? It was either Latvian or Lithuanian, with apologies to any Baltic readers for mixing them up.

I found it OK-ish although the other half found it disgusting (more than Unicum but not as much as Gammel Dansk) and I wouldn't buy a bigger bottle, put it that way.

(Not quite on-topic itt, but my favourite thing from the Baltic shop is the Ukrainian birch vodka - Nemiroff brand, I think. Perhaps I should take that to a vodka thread...)

a passing spacecadet, Friday, 11 January 2019 18:05 (one year ago) link

I was at a friend's place on NYE, and he had not only a bottle of Rigas Balsam but also a Chilean amaro I'd never heard of called Araucano. It was pretty good.

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 18:09 (one year ago) link

jaymc, thanks for those links -- I'll make copious notes before my trip.

If Your Site Mod Vomits (Do This Every Day) (WmC), Friday, 11 January 2019 18:12 (one year ago) link

xpost Oh I see that araucano in the grocery store. Because of the label I thought it was a fernet or angosturo. How did you drink it?

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 18:19 (one year ago) link

Just sipped on a bit of it, neat

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 18:22 (one year ago) link

I guess the title should've been Amari. Like I learned about the singular of pasta shapes here.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 18:50 (one year ago) link

It turns out the offending drink was Piratens Besk, which is neither Danish, nor really an aperitif - it’s a wormwood schnapps kind of thing so apologies both to the Danes and the amaro family.

ShariVari, Friday, 11 January 2019 19:06 (one year ago) link

ok so for edification of myself and possibly others i'm going try to taste one amaro a day when i'm home and post a quick tasting note...i mostly use these guys in cocktails and not as sippers so this should be interesting.

first off the shelf is amaro lucano. aroma is more spicy than herbal. distinct menthol note. doesn't taste minty though, tastes more like warm baking spices. lots of cinnamon. fairly sweet, what i'd call light-medium bitterness. pretty think mouthfeel with that syrupy caramel color thing.

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 19:22 (one year ago) link

I'm into it ^^^. I'll do the same when I come across something new (maybe I can get the araucano tomorrow when I go grocery shopping).

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 20:00 (one year ago) link

should have been THICK mouthfeel up there

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 20:06 (one year ago) link

many xposts, jaymc Do you have the Amaro book. I had thought about getting it over the holidays but I thought it might be cocktail recipe heavy which I wasn't so interested in that part of it.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 20:28 (one year ago) link

In late summer 2017 I was sitting at the nice restaurant my boyfriend was working at, having an after-his-shift drink with him, and there was a gregarious man down the bar who was on a date with his wife. The man bought my bf and me a shot that he thought was really "the best": half smoky mezcal, and half Montenegro. It is a delicious shot. We had another after he left and verified that yes, this is a delicious drink, and the night was really nice and we had a great time and the drink kind of became our go-to romantic celebratory drink.

We didn't know what the drink was called and so we just called it a Harrison (the gregarious man's name was Harrison). Our enjoyment of the drink around the few restaurants we enjoy has caught on and there's a place up the street from me that has a Harrison on the menu. It's a good drink! Hard to get good mezcal in Canada but anyway yeah

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 11 January 2019 20:42 (one year ago) link

I really want to try this shot and I don't have either of those things.

Yerac, Friday, 11 January 2019 21:55 (one year ago) link

not going to drink it as a shot but i'll def try it as a 50/50 cocktail

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 21:57 (one year ago) link

It works well as a sipper with a single cube of ice, can confirm

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 11 January 2019 23:20 (one year ago) link

I was going to write "I have the Amaro book" but I realised I don't, I have "Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters and Amari" which is 90% about bitters and the amari section is just a 10-page list of brands with tasting notes.

seandalai, Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:18 (one year ago) link

Did you enjoy the book?

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:41 (one year ago) link

it's fine - I already had one book on Bitters (the Brad Parsons one), this didn't really add much on top of that one

seandalai, Saturday, 12 January 2019 01:49 (one year ago) link

lots of "what if Negroni but with Angostura Bitters" type recipes

seandalai, Saturday, 12 January 2019 01:49 (one year ago) link

I got into Amari via Fernet but it turns out the only Fernet I really like is Branca (I have near-full/going-nowhere bottles of Fernet 1882, Fernet Stock and this weird creature). When I left a previous job the leaving gift from my very thoughtful colleagues was a bottle of Rigas Balsam (also going nowhere)...

All-time favourites are probably: Cynar, Meletti, Suze, Fernet Branca. I have some others lying around (Montenegro, Nonino, Campari, Aperol) that only really see cocktail use.

seandalai, Saturday, 12 January 2019 01:50 (one year ago) link

tbh cocktail use is my main interest here, altho I drink Fernet Branca straight

sleeve, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:00 (one year ago) link

hmmm, yeah I am not interested in any cocktail book. I don't really make cocktails at home and usually will just drink things with soda water if anything. Even the aperol I think is too sweet if I do it with prosecco/spritz so will just use soda water.

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:03 (one year ago) link

Ha, opposite xpost.

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:03 (one year ago) link

i def buy them for cocktails and pulling off specific recipes, what the heck, they're shelf-stable and have cool-looking bottles. i'm not opposed to drinking them straight and should probably do so more often since the shelving unit i use for liquor is pretty much maxed. need to reorganize it and shift some underutilized stuff to the basement shelves asap.

call all destroyer, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:10 (one year ago) link

yeah, I can only focus on so much at once and just don't even want to get into trying to keep a full bar at home. 80% of my space goes to wine with the other 20% basically brown spirits.

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:19 (one year ago) link

many xposts, jaymc Do you have the Amaro book. I had thought about getting it over the holidays but I thought it might be cocktail recipe heavy which I wasn't so interested in that part of it.

Yep. I did buy it for the cocktail recipes, which make up about half the book, but there's also a substantial section (maybe about a quarter of the book) that just lists and describes various amari.

jaymc, Saturday, 12 January 2019 03:57 (one year ago) link

this weird creature

Ha, I bought that (Salmiakki Dala) for my brother for Christmas a couple of years ago (though I don't think I realized it was produced by Bittermens).

jaymc, Saturday, 12 January 2019 03:59 (one year ago) link

I had Nardini Tagliatella, which the seller said was a mix of a lot of different tap drippings. It was good, but sweeter than I normally like.

I am doing dry January so no amaro for me this month.

Virginia Plain, Saturday, 12 January 2019 05:58 (one year ago) link

yeah the one I bought says "Picon bière" and the recipe on the back is to add it to a beer. I'm not averse to that, but I'm more interested in cocktails. I read about Picon punch, and I'm going to make some tonight. An herbaceous gin combo sounds good though.

L'assie (Euler), Wednesday, 30 October 2019 17:55 (six months ago) link

Its heyday has passed but eGullet is a good place to check for discussion of exotic drinks going back to the 00s when craft cocktail ppl were discovering them afresh and trying to work out what to do with them. There's an Amer Picon thread: https://forums.egullet.org/topic/9916-amer-picon-torani-amer

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Wednesday, 30 October 2019 21:36 (six months ago) link

oh i posted this in a cocktail thread a couple of weeks ago but if anyone is idle there are so many wonderful vintage cocktail books archived online here.

https://euvs-vintage-cocktail-books.cld.bz/

Yerac, Wednesday, 30 October 2019 21:44 (six months ago) link

that egullet thread brings me back. they were at the tail end of their prime when i found the place but there's a wealth of info on there. some really incredible science of shaking and stirring posts that still inform how i mix drinks. sincere 2000s message boarding at its best.

call all destroyer, Thursday, 31 October 2019 01:07 (six months ago) link

holy crap Yerac that website is nuts. i love perusing stuff like that. thx

one charm and one antiup quark (outdoor_miner), Friday, 1 November 2019 15:27 (six months ago) link

I love Picon biere, and I thought it was one of the few remaining things that you still can't easily buy in the U.S. (a friend brings back a bottle from Paris every few years). Has that changed?

Last night we had some of the Nocino (walnut liqueur) that I brought back from Switzerland in like '06, it's still delicious.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 1 November 2019 15:34 (six months ago) link

still no picon in the u.s. as far as i know

call all destroyer, Friday, 1 November 2019 15:48 (six months ago) link

Yeah, you still can't get the original Amer Picon in the U.S., as far as I know. Where are you, Euler?

There are a couple of substitutes that I'm aware of -- the most common is Torani Amer. Also, some people just use other amari, like CioCiaro or Ramazzotti, for recipes that call for Amer Picon.

jaymc, Friday, 1 November 2019 15:48 (six months ago) link

(CioCiaro is what I've personally used to make Brooklyns and picon bieres.)

jaymc, Friday, 1 November 2019 15:49 (six months ago) link

ah, thanks, I was struggling with how to use CioCiaro upthread, never thought of using amari boilermaker style

Book Doula (sleeve), Friday, 1 November 2019 15:52 (six months ago) link

euler is in paris iirc

bigallet china-china is another good substitute--even more pronounced orange flavors than ciociaro.

call all destroyer, Friday, 1 November 2019 15:53 (six months ago) link

Yeah, I get the impression that the orange notes are key. Jamie Boudreau (of Canon in Seattle) uses Ramazzotti but mixed with orange bitters and orange tincture.

jaymc, Friday, 1 November 2019 16:04 (six months ago) link

Golden Moon Distillery in Colorado makes a Picon they claim is faithful to the original recipe:

Golden Moon Amer dit Picon is produced using the finest hand-selected herbs, spices and botanicals available. We have recreated the original processes and acquired the original type of ingredients used by legendary distiller Gaetan Picon to create his amer (bitters) in the 1830’s. Bottled at 78 Proof, Golden Moon Amer dit Picon is the perfect ingredient for the legendary Picon Punch, the Brittany cocktail, and a host of other classic cocktails. It can also be enjoyed by itself.

http://goldenmoondistillery.com/ourspirits

Looks like they've got distribution local to me, going to see who stocks it.

by the light of the burning Citroën, Friday, 1 November 2019 16:18 (six months ago) link

no distro near me but that's awesome!

call all destroyer, Friday, 1 November 2019 16:23 (six months ago) link

yeah I live in Paris

I really like Picon! I've been mixing it with grenadine and soda water, sort of a Picon Punch but without brandy.

I think I need to buy a shaker if I'm gonna keep making cocktails. Stirring it with a butter knife doesn't work that well.

L'assie (Euler), Friday, 1 November 2019 17:19 (six months ago) link

to get your start with stirred cocktails (as 99% of picon cocktails would be) just get a nice long barspoon and strainer and use a regular pint glass.

call all destroyer, Friday, 1 November 2019 17:53 (six months ago) link

what is the strainer for? for seeds from a lemon for instance?

L'assie (Euler), Friday, 1 November 2019 17:55 (six months ago) link

1. put your ingredients in the pint glass
2. add ice
3. stir until chilled
4. strain into a chilled cocktail glass

call all destroyer, Friday, 1 November 2019 17:59 (six months ago) link

yeah, if you google image boston shaker vs cobbler shaker you will see that you usually need a strainer for the boston shaker set up. I much prefer the pint glass method.

Yerac, Friday, 1 November 2019 18:00 (six months ago) link

oh ice, yeah that would be nice, we don't normally have it here (it's something I like usa fridges for) but I could make some.

L'assie (Euler), Friday, 1 November 2019 18:03 (six months ago) link

I don't bother straining stirred drinks (beyond removing the ice) but yeah, ice is fundamental to most cocktail recipes (apart from the whole room-temperature scaffa thing)

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Friday, 1 November 2019 20:12 (six months ago) link

I had a picon bierre last night, inspired by this thread, the bar I was in just happens to have it on the first page of their menu. It was very nice and took the edge off the overly hoppy beer they made it with.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Friday, 1 November 2019 20:19 (six months ago) link

a picon biere made with a hoppy beer is an interesting idea. i've only ever had it made with, like, kronenbourg.

call all destroyer, Friday, 1 November 2019 20:32 (six months ago) link

I'm sure there's a better name than "beer negroni" but beer + Campari + vermouth is lovely

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Friday, 1 November 2019 21:18 (six months ago) link

I've only tried with lighter lager-ish beers though

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Friday, 1 November 2019 21:18 (six months ago) link

It would probably be better with kronenbourg. As ever I am a grumpy old bastard who things hops should be in balance with the other flavours.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Friday, 1 November 2019 21:34 (six months ago) link

I was give a bottle of Aromes de Montserrat it’s a on the chartreuse spectrum but tastes more cedary. Definitely not great for drink it on its own, what should I mix it into?

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 10:00 (six months ago) link

Reading this thread in a fancy resto just having a couple refreshments. ordered fgti's smokey mezcal Montenegro rec. Am fairly uninitiated in mezcal but this is rly lovely!

one charm and one antiup quark (outdoor_miner), Friday, 8 November 2019 02:37 (six months ago) link

This thread is akin to the floyd - rules!

one charm and one antiup quark (outdoor_miner), Friday, 8 November 2019 02:38 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

Picked up bottles of Zucca, CioCiaro, Branca Menta, and Amaro di Angostura in Atlanta this week. The Ango is amazing -- reviews all talk about cinnamon, but what I get is a luscious allspice liqueur. Branca Menta smells like Scope but is rich on the palate. Thumbs up for all four.

WmC, Sunday, 8 December 2019 04:15 (five months ago) link

you should make my favorite cocktail that has zucca: https://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/2011/05/throw-gun-2.html

call all destroyer, Sunday, 8 December 2019 04:25 (five months ago) link

Nice, I had a shot of the Amaro di Angostura in Indianapolis a few years ago and was impressed.

CAD: I'm not a huge fan of egg-white cocktails, but that looks good.

One of my favorite Zucca cocktails is the house cocktail at a place in my neighborhood called Sportsman's Club: https://chicagoist.com/2014/03/24/behind_the_stick_familiarity_brings.php

(I use Campari in place of the Luxardo Bitter. And any high-proof bourbon or rye will do.)

jaymc, Sunday, 8 December 2019 06:03 (five months ago) link

Thanks for those recipes. CAD, that Throw the Gun #2 recipe says 1 egg -- does that mean the whole egg? I thought cocktails just used egg whites.

WmC, Sunday, 8 December 2019 16:34 (five months ago) link

it is indeed a whole egg. there is an entire category of whole-egg drinks historically known as "flips" from which that drink descends.

call all destroyer, Sunday, 8 December 2019 16:59 (five months ago) link

three months pass...

Every now and then, the 2 1/2 decent liquor stores in Tupelo will sneak something new and interesting into stock -- got a bottle of Amaro Montenegro today while I was looking for Everclear.

Miami weisse (WmC), Saturday, 21 March 2020 18:08 (two months ago) link

ooh jealous, that was one of my favorites from the Italy trip notes upthread

sleeve, Saturday, 21 March 2020 18:27 (two months ago) link

did you find everclear? It's kind of crazy how much cheaper italian amaros can be in countries outside the US (I mean if you can find them). We took a bottle of aperol from here to the US because it's so much cheaper here.

Yerac, Saturday, 21 March 2020 19:03 (two months ago) link

Everclear itself is sold out everywhere, but one store had plenty of Diesel 190-proof grain spirit. With a name like Diesel, it ought to make some great sanitizer.

Miami weisse (WmC), Saturday, 21 March 2020 19:40 (two months ago) link

i had everclear one night in my life. Never again.

Yerac, Saturday, 21 March 2020 19:43 (two months ago) link

A good and relatively simple Montenegro cocktail is the Cobble Hill:

2 oz rye
0.5 oz dry vermouth
0.5 oz Montenegro

Muddle a couple of cucumber slices in the mixing glass, add other ingredients, and stir with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

jaymc, Saturday, 21 March 2020 21:25 (two months ago) link

love cucumber in cocktails.

Yerac, Saturday, 21 March 2020 21:33 (two months ago) link

I'll give that a go -- bought a cucumber this afternoon. (Every other salad ingredient was sold out, but an onion-cucumber salad is fine by me.)

Miami weisse (WmC), Saturday, 21 March 2020 22:51 (two months ago) link

cucumber and whiskey seems very unintuitive to me, meaning... I'll have to try it!

absolute idiot liar uneducated person (mh), Sunday, 22 March 2020 02:11 (two months ago) link

Yeah, somehow it works! Also, maybe this is obvious, but the cucumber is strained out of the cocktail. So you're just getting a subtle note of it.

jaymc, Sunday, 22 March 2020 02:17 (two months ago) link

there's a pizzeria near me that has Elisir Novasalus on the menu and I'll often have one if I end up there for a late lunch. It's pretty crazy.

El Tomboto, Sunday, 22 March 2020 02:30 (two months ago) link


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