Amaros (and digestifs)

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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

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

Yerac, Saturday, 12 January 2019 13:06 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year ago) link

I tried Averna for the first time with virginia plain last night. Very cola. Also bought a bottle of Sfumato that I have not opened yet.

Yerac, Tuesday, 19 February 2019 16:50 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

I took a pic of my current drink cart and growing amari collection.
https://ibb.co/BCCjmZ1

Yerac, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 16:46 (one year ago) link

i can see it if i open in a new tab but obv the embed isn't working

call all destroyer, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 16:50 (one year ago) link

I am really bad at the internet.

Yerac, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 16:51 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (three 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 (three 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 (one week ago) link

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

sleeve, Saturday, 21 March 2020 18:27 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

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

Yerac, Saturday, 21 March 2020 19:43 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

love cucumber in cocktails.

Yerac, Saturday, 21 March 2020 21:33 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link


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