Amaros (and digestifs)

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"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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

Just sipped on a bit of it, neat

jaymc, Friday, 11 January 2019 18:22 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

should have been THICK mouthfeel up there

call all destroyer, Friday, 11 January 2019 20:06 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

Did you enjoy the book?

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:41 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

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

seandalai, Saturday, 12 January 2019 01:49 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

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

sleeve, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:00 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

Ha, opposite xpost.

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:03 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months 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 (nine months ago) link

VP we will be around all Feb. so we can have an amari tasting then.

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 13:06 (nine months ago) link

At the grocery store today I also found this other chilean amaro (I did not buy) that was an alpenkrauter? For some reason I can only find a pic on a flickr. The label was cute. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nirvinochile/7423596160

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 15:53 (nine months ago) link

Yes, Yerac, I am down for February amaro tasting! I love Amaros so much. One thing I really like is having it for the last drink of the night, as it calms me down and teaches my brain to stop drinking, unlike most liquors.

Virginia Plain, Sunday, 13 January 2019 03:04 (nine months ago) link

Yeah, I don't really know if they help digestion but I drink them too instead of opening a bottle of wine. I mixed the sibilla and the araucano i got last night together.

Yerac, Sunday, 13 January 2019 12:36 (nine months ago) link

are we in a trendy amaro moment? overheard a friend-of-friends talking about them on friday night and got some tips on where to buy locally and some recommendations

mh, Sunday, 13 January 2019 16:45 (nine months ago) link

Hmm maybe. I was shocked when I learned several years ago how popular negronis were in the US and maybe it's a natural side effect of that, going away from fruity/sweet drinks to more savory/bitter. I noticed a lot of US artisanal amari when I was in the wine/spirits stores last year.

Yerac, Sunday, 13 January 2019 17:03 (nine months ago) link

they've been bubbling under for a couple years but yeah i think they might be hitting another level based on my own very anecdotal experiences

call all destroyer, Sunday, 13 January 2019 17:04 (nine months ago) link

I've never done tasting notes on an amaro before and I don't have benchmarks here to start from but I went based upon other alcohols.

Araucano ~$10USD in chile
Medium amber brown, clear. On the nose it's very cola, sassafras, clove, cinnamon bark, cocoa powder, vanilla, orange oil, a little bit of menthol. Palate is cinnamon cola, sassafras, allspice, orange peel, woody. Medium+ sugar, medium+ acidity, medium+ bitterness. Medium finish.

Yerac, Sunday, 13 January 2019 19:47 (nine months ago) link

next up we got amaro ciociaro. mine is an old bottle i actually i made a special trip to astor wines & spirits for back before this stuff was in wider distribution. back in the day it was a preferred substitute for amer picon for people in the u.s.a. who were trying to make the brooklyn cocktail, though i think there are several more options now.

smells like orange and cloves to me. that holds in the taste as well though there's some brown sugar and another flavor i'd describe as "granulated white sugar" which is interesting. i think of ciociaro as one of the more fruit-forward (well really orange-forward) amari at least among the basic brown ones. there's another one on my shelf coming up that blows it away in that regard but it's still pleasant, with moderate sweetness, light bitterness, and a less gloopy mouthfeel.

call all destroyer, Monday, 14 January 2019 19:44 (nine months ago) link

I think one of these amaros is the equivalent of smooth move with me. I tried to look it up to see if that was a common side effect. nope.

Yerac, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 16:49 (eight months ago) link

Indeed, I'm pretty sure I bought the CioCiaro a few years ago to make the Brooklyn and other drinks calling for Amer Picon. I don't know what else is easily substitutable for Amer Picon, though there a few DIY recipes out there. For instance, Jamie Boudreau of Canon in Seattle makes one with a base of Ramazzotti, orange tincture, and orange bitters.

jaymc, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 16:58 (eight months ago) link

My spouse is in Rome and so far has picked up Diesus and Braulio Riserva and then also some more Sibilla because it is 28euro there (as opposed to the $~50 in the US).

Yerac, Thursday, 17 January 2019 00:09 (eight months ago) link

Also got Dell'Erborista (the 70-75cl bottle for 19euro!) and San Marco Sarandrea. I get excited about these things because the main thing I do when I/we travel is look for wine/liquor and spices.

Yerac, Thursday, 17 January 2019 18:13 (eight months ago) link

I wish more liqueurs were available in small bottles. I want a taste before I spring for 750 ml.

The Non-Verbal Signs Your Mod Is Giving You (WmC), Thursday, 17 January 2019 18:29 (eight months ago) link

I think Italy does have amari in mini bottles. I tasted a bunch once at a friend's house. Otherwise the next time you go to a bar and it's relatively slow I would think most bartenders would give you a 1 oz pour to taste especially if you are going to get a cocktail anyway. I sometimes have places do half pours/split glasses for me or a friend if I want to create my own flights of something. But it's usually during quietish times and i always make sure to tip well for the annoyance of extra glasses. And if the bartender is good they will be happy to talk about whatever it is you want to try.

Yerac, Thursday, 17 January 2019 18:44 (eight months ago) link

i like to read this thread just for the names of the drinks. idk what most of them are but their names are very soothing!

i have enjoyed several herbal/herbaceous digestifs and love anisette but otherwise i am reading for sentences like My spouse is in Rome and so far has picked up Diesus and Braulio Riserva and then also some more Sibilla because it sounds so idyllic and i need that right now ;)

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:01 (eight months ago) link

I think Italy does have amari in mini bottles.

OK I'm actively gonna look for these when we're there

sleeve, Thursday, 17 January 2019 20:13 (eight months ago) link

Ha! I know I said it before but they have the prettiest labels. I was going by some of this article about what to look for in Rome. Sadly the San Simone could not be found this trip. That font/typeface *is* great. https://punchdrink.com/articles/guide-to-smuggling-rare-italian-amaro-campari-cask-tales-braulio/

The Diesus Amaro del Frata has the same monk-like bottle shape as Frangelico.

Yerac, Thursday, 17 January 2019 20:16 (eight months ago) link

the one with the deer on it!
the labels + the names is like asmr for people who like concoctions

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 17 January 2019 20:19 (eight months ago) link

Years ago on a vacation to Maine I stopped at (New Hampshire?) state-run liquor store and discovered Chambord and St. Germain via mini bottles. I'll try just about anything that way, down to the most cheap-ass peach-pecan whiskey. xxp

The Non-Verbal Signs Your Mod Is Giving You (WmC), Thursday, 17 January 2019 20:20 (eight months ago) link

amari labels are the absolute best. i transfer a lot of liqueurs and small-quantity stuff to standard 375ml bottles and store the original bottles in the basement, but i can’t bring myself to do it with the amari.

call all destroyer, Thursday, 17 January 2019 20:32 (eight months ago) link

one month passes...

I went a little nuts in Atlanta this weekend: full bottles of Nonino, Averna and Cynar, a 375ml bottle of Fernet-Branca, and a 50ml mini of Amaro de Toscana. I'll have a tasting session this evening.

ILX Moderator: It's Like a Pressure Wash for Your Insides (WmC), Tuesday, 19 February 2019 14:11 (seven months ago) link

had montenegro after a good meal on saturday night. very nice digestif. wish there were more amari available in the liquor stores i frequent

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 6 March 2019 18:07 (seven months ago) link

teeny tiny eno! (hearts emoticon)
yeah, am in the same situation wrt nearby liquor stores so got a bottle of Amaro Dell'Etna delivered. it's. freaking. exquisite.

The immortal Hydra Viridisimma (outdoor_miner), Wednesday, 6 March 2019 18:50 (seven months ago) link

That's a lot of Aperol. But you never know when the next Aperol Famine will hit, so you're set.

27 Discounts ILXors Get Only If They Know (WmC), Wednesday, 6 March 2019 18:52 (seven months ago) link

Thank you for reposting! One of the pics was showing up for me, who knows?

Not all of that are amari. Yeah we have a lot of aperol because it was on sale for like $10usd a bottle one month.

Yerac, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 19:03 (seven months ago) link

good reminder to taste montenegro which also happens to be sitting right on my counter. on the lighter-bodied end of things, this one is cool for having a unique and unmistakable floral note. i'd characterize it as dried rose petals. other than that, caramelly sweetness and mild bitterness. worth having, hard to substitute.

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 23:47 (seven months ago) link

two months pass...

my tasting notes from our trip to Europe (and back here in the US, I think I'm hooked on this stuff):

Holland (beginning of trip) - purchased in a German supermarket:
Romanetti Alle Herbe amaro: day 1 tasting: orange, chocolate, more sweet than bitter. Day 2 tasting: "this reminds me of something... wait.... Coca-Cola!"

in Italy:
San Simone: medicinal smell, mint orange chocolate notes, not as medicinal taste, more bitter, Fernet Branca vibes but lighter

Amaro Silvano: wtf is even going on here! Allspice comes first, then clove cinnamon and other dark spice vibes, sweet before bitter. Tiny hint of anise? Like a pfeffernusse cookie turned into an amaro. I think this was our overall favorite.

Vecchio Amaro Del Capo - ice cold, super complex. Anise, licorice, herbs, dark caramel. Another favorite.

Amaro Lucano - these are starting to blur together, but this is more medicinal, like Jaeger lite. Lotsa sweet finish notes

Amaro Jefferson: nutmeg nutmeg nutmeg, then some other spices, light color and flavor, yummm

Averna - another immediate "coca-cola" hit. Cloves? Some chocolate finish notes, heat from alcohol, spices

Amaro Montenegro - much more floral, cinnamon spice finish, lighter. Odd & very complex herbal/medicinal overtones. Served over ice, not sure if that's standard.

Holland (end of trip):
Schierker Feuerstein krauter-halb-bitter - from Germany, duh. Medicinal Jaeger vibes again, quite bitter. Only 70 proof, it was a bit slushy right out of the freezer. How can this have more heat taste than the others?!?! It definitely does. Not as many spice/citrus/chocolate notes as the others.

Cocchi Amaro - served over ice with orange slice (not peel). Much lighter, almost sour, really this is a bitter red vermouth. None of the thicker, denser, almost syrupy aspects of the others. After eating orange slice: definitely a light red vermouth, but super fancy and refreshing. Hardly any sweet notes at all.

back in America, still tasting:
Bruto Americano -the most bitter, but is this even an amaro? No thickness or sweet or syrupy aspects. Cherry, bark, medicine, light taste with dark color. It tastes like Laurie's digestive bitter tincture!!

Amaro Nonino - syrupy, cinnamon, kinda light color and flavor even with the heaviness, honey notes, also super bitter, very good.

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Wednesday, 8 May 2019 13:51 (five months ago) link

Nice! I have tasted uh three of those.

I have a bottle of Bruto Americano but I've never worked out what to do with it.

seandalai, Wednesday, 8 May 2019 20:57 (five months ago) link

Sounds like a great trip, sleeve.

I will be in New Orleans on 6/1, trip planned at the last minute, and I have some liquor searching planned. Keife & Co. are hoping to have Zucca back in stock by the time I get there, and I will look for Silvano and Jefferson.

WmC, Wednesday, 8 May 2019 21:12 (five months ago) link

xp it was good just over ice, I could see an orange garnish as well but I think it works fine by itself

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Wednesday, 8 May 2019 21:16 (five months ago) link

I still regret not picking up a bottle of Bitterol (same label design as Aperol, clearly made by same people) - anyone had that?

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Wednesday, 8 May 2019 21:17 (five months ago) link

Ohhh, I am interested in that amaro jefferson, will be on the lookout. Looked like a great trip!

Yerac, Wednesday, 8 May 2019 21:31 (five months ago) link

thanks, yeah we had a great time.

the Jefferson was a real standout, I want some! I need to check the local store that carries such things.

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Wednesday, 8 May 2019 21:46 (five months ago) link

your notes on montenegro and lucano are very simpatico with mine.

i’ve only been drinking beer and wine recently. need to sneak some amari back in there.

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 8 May 2019 21:49 (five months ago) link

Ugh, I am not drinking the rest of the month. It sucks. I have to live vicariously.

Yerac, Wednesday, 8 May 2019 22:25 (five months ago) link

OK I found a bottle of Vecchio Amaro Del Capo at the local store, it was one of the coolest ones we tried and it's also from Calabria where we spent most of our time (my wife's family is from there). Into the freezer it goes for special occasions.

I also made an impulse buy of something I saw and liked the label of, but didn't get to try - Amaro Ciociaro:

https://kindredcocktails.com/sites/kindredcocktails.com/files/ingredients/amaro-ciociaro.jpg

poured a little into a shot glass to taste straight, uhhhh this is the most baffling yet. still some bitter notes but massive, upfront sugar/thick/syrup hits, like bubblegum/toasted coconut/burnt caramel/cotton candy kinda tastes. too sweet!

we diluted the rest of the shot glass with water and it improved a lot, you could start to taste the floral notes. I think their suggestion of "over ice with lemon peel" sounds good, something to balance out that (delicious, fancy) bubble gum madness. note sure how best to use this, time for research.

https://kindredcocktails.com/ingredient/ciociaro

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Thursday, 9 May 2019 14:08 (five months ago) link

yeah, usually when I have been tasting these I do it straight first and then with a little bit of seltzer to kind of figure out how I prefer things. I don't like the overly sweet/luscious ones because I am not making cocktails and I don't tend to like sweet things.

Yerac, Thursday, 9 May 2019 14:23 (five months ago) link

That 8 Amaro Sazerac in that link seems crazy. I want to try it.

Yerac, Thursday, 9 May 2019 14:36 (five months ago) link

I would have to buy like five things!

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Thursday, 9 May 2019 14:38 (five months ago) link

If I can remember I am going to ask a bar to make it for me.

Yerac, Thursday, 9 May 2019 14:40 (five months ago) link

I had that mini of Amaro di Toscana last night on a couple of ice cubes. It's pretty good! It's somewhere between the cola + spices profile of Averna with just the right amount of Fernet-Branca's mentholated bitterness.

WmC, Monday, 13 May 2019 14:59 (five months ago) link

one month passes...

https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/64642153_10158468303918709_7106172967763050496_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_oc=AQmqAwG-KnMK5qcSg_hObgET8d89-_T4MQoYxknn492EQcWoBW9iQIdbB8PNGxgEGC0&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-1.xx&oh=01c7b4eec5d5a3d696e248808b473565&oe=5D80F331

Hoodoo chicory liqueur, from Cathead Distillery in Jackson MS. Toffee, coffee, chocolate, hints of pie spices, bitterness obviously. After finishing it and the glass is drying it smells like cinnamon.

I am curious (george) (slight return) (WmC), Thursday, 20 June 2019 23:57 (three months ago) link

That looks really good. If I had a sweet tooth I would make a syrupy reduction and use it to drizzle on pie or ice cream. Or make it into ice cream. Would that be too bitter to put into your coffee?

Yerac, Friday, 21 June 2019 01:48 (three months ago) link

I think it would be perfect in coffee.

I am curious (george) (slight return) (WmC), Friday, 21 June 2019 02:00 (three months ago) link

mmmm

Ambient Police (sleeve), Friday, 21 June 2019 02:20 (three months ago) link

I have not tried anything new but I re-tried this badass local calisaya, still delicious, golden spicy chinchona

http://elixircraftspirits.com/

Ambient Police (sleeve), Friday, 21 June 2019 02:24 (three months ago) link


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