The world of Amaro is rich and deep! An easy Amaro cocktail is just the ticket before or after dinner, especially a big feast.
It was the bottle that got me at first. I’ve always been an easy sell for a beautiful bottle of spirits, especially when the liquid gold inside is a mystery. I felt this way long before I was anywhere near old enough to actually open the bottle and taste the contents. One particular bottle was in the house on Wagon Wheel Lane, and the liquor was a pale yellow. The shape of the bottle was intriguing – too tall and slim, like an imperious tower. I found out later it was Galliano – the Italian liqueur subtly flavored with vanilla and anise (at least that’s what I’ve read – I’ve never actually tasted it! On my hit list…).
Fast forward a few decades to another bottle that intrigued me, perched high on a shelf of the gorgeous wall of liqueurs at Symon’s General Store in Petoskey. Like the Galliano, this was a towering bottle, but filled with a tawny liquid. It caught my eye repeatedly that summer, until I finally decided I couldn’t live without a bottle. I had no idea what this was or how to use drink it, but I knew I had to have it.
Turns out, here was my introduction to a whole new world. The bottle was Averna, and the world I entered into was Amaro.
Over the coming months we’ll be exploring the breadth and depth of these historic Italian liqueurs – herbaceous distillations with extensive and often secret ingredients lists. But for today and with Thanksgiving nearly upon us, the goal of the cocktail this week is to raise awareness of these Italian after dinner drinks, or the disgestivo.
You’ll have to learn to bear with my all-consuming love of everything Italian, which led me to study the Italian language in college. Most of my classmates were in Italian freshman year with the promise of a year in Rome come sophomore year. I knew a year-long Roman holiday was not in the cards for me (“don’t be exotic,” my dad said), but my love of Italian everything never abated.
Why is a digestivo important with the holidays upon us? We do need some way to calm our stomachs and digestive systems after over-indulging in large portions of rich foods, and why not, ironically, with more alcohol?
Amaro have been made for centuries just for this purpose and now are finding themselves pulled from the dusty back of the bar to the front for innovative cocktails. But this week’s cocktail of choice is a simple presentation of an Amaro on the rocks. I would urge you to head to your local liqueur store and ask to be shown to the aisle with the Amaro – you may find them by spotting the more familiar bottle of bright red Campari or neon orange Aperol (these are a different kind of bitter, generally thought of as apertivo or pre-dinner drinks in Italy). Pick one out like I did, without knowing much about it, and serve it simply after a large meal.
And let the digestion begin!
- 2 oz. Amaro
- Large square ice cubes
- Fill a rocks glass half way with ice, pour Amaro over and stir for 20-30 seconds. Sip Slowly!
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This drink should just be called “Drinking alcohol cold.”
Amaro nonino is used in a great cocktail called a paper plane. I’ve not tried it straight.
Wonderful, paper plane!