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Fat Guy

TDG: Wine Camp: Amore and Amaro

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Great overview of the big amari producers, but what is the discussion doing in wine???

regards,

trillium

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Hmm. Good question. The column is our weekly wine column, so for archiving purposes I put it here, even though this maybe isn't the best place subject-matter-wise.

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What a great article. I love amari. Although my after dinner distillate of choice remains the 130 Alpine herbs of Chartreuse.

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I'm a big fan of amari of all kinds, and I also head straight for the Fernet Branca whenever I feel like I've had too much to eat. Nothing washes down a dinner at Churrascaria Plataforma like a bedtime sip of Fernet Branca.

My current favorite amaro, and one that is sadly unavailable in the US, is Kàpriol -- a juniper-flavored liquor from the Distilleria dell'Alpe in Susegana in the Veneto. I always try to swing by Buccone in Rome to pick up some Kàpriol and whatever else I can't get in the US to bring back.

Haven't tried Nonino yet, but will definitely be trying some now...

Craig... where do you think things like Campari and Cynar (which I prefer to Campari) fall? Would you consider them amari? Or, if not, then what are they?

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Craig, thanks for the article. Two of my closest friends in Italy make me sit and have an amaro every time I show up at their places, and I've learned to like it a lot (it's just the first one that you're never quite ready for!), but I knew little about it before your piece.

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Is Strega a type of amaro? Or is it just another kind of italian digestif?

Strega is not an amaro, although it contain herbs (and saffron). It falls, I think, in the category of "rosoli" i.e. alcohol infusions mixed 1:1 or close to syrup (as limoncello, nocino (walnut and spices liqueur) and so on), which were widely popular in Italy at the beginning of the past century and had a sort of resurgence in the 90's. They are, as you correctly say, digestifs, and to be honest my impression has always been that the distinction between amari and not-amari is mainly a taste one.


Edited by albiston (log)

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Nice article Craig. I am a big fan of Amaro as well. My first experience with it was in the early eighties, as my stepfather's father wanted a bottle of it. We couldn't find it anywhere. Seems that at one point they had a fire at the Fernet factory and production ceased for a spell. Once we got our hands pn a bottle I had to try it and I must say it was pretty harsh. Obviuosly the reason Jaegrmeister does so well is because its so sweet. Americans love their sugar. Bitter does not seem to be a favored flavor component to the American Palate. The next experience I had was in my old neighborhood in North Beach,SF, where it's the shot of choice for the bartenders. Strange yes, but it did help the old digestive system out. I've since enjoyed the other Amaro's you describe in your article and I'd agree that Averna is the smoothest. Fernet is still more easily found and if you ever find yourself with an upset tummy there's no better fix.

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And here I'd thought I'd invented something new when I mixed Averna with fizzy water on the rocks.

We can't get it here in the liquor-hell of Oregon, but I was able to find a couple of bottles of Nonino Amaro in Brooklyn last year. Still hoarding one.

Here's another story idea, Craig: wander around Friuli trying all the home-brewed grappas. When we spent 10 days near Trieste a few years back it seemed like everybody had their own recipe for Italian moonshine. There was even a little saying, which I can't remember in Italian, but it was something slightly bawdy along the lines of "the more you put down, the more it goes up."

Jim

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Amaro!!!!!! OOOOOOOOOH! I love it. Unfortunately not many do (outside of Italy). To say that it's an aquired taste is the understatement of the century! But if you have an open mind and are patient it's an amazing taste.

Not being negative but I feel you're flogging a dead horse trying to 'sell' it to Americans in general. The Brits (generally more openmnded than Americans) can't stomach it and neither can the French (and they'll usually stomach ANYTHING!), and when I first came to Italy (in 1966!!) I hated it as well. Now, after a real caffe at the border, an amaro is the first thing I'll drink when I arrive into Italy.

Personally I agree that Averna is the best although I do love Braulio which is harder to get and Fernet Branca has saved my life on quite a few occassions (I'm in the travel business and there's nothing worse than being at the airport, with the chaos and the smell of aviation fuel, with a hangover - Fernet has always worked like a dream in those situations.

Let's not forget the other bitter tasting drinks which are non-alcoholic. For example I love a San Pelligrino Bitter (sort of like a bitter coca cola) or a Crodino (ditto Fanta) or an Aperol with soda and sugar around the edge. They are all uniquely Italian. Also there's the cocktail of all cocktails, the Negroni (Campari, sweet vermouth and gin - I prefer it without soda and on the rocks) or on a hot day Campari and San Pelligrino bitter orange and lots and lots of ice is very thirst quenching. Ah yes, the Italians do know how to drink as well as eat!

Great story Craig and thanks,

Peter

ps I've heard rumours that Fernet is sold also in chemist shops in the U.S.

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How about a white one:

Kranabet.

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In Liguria this year, the older-Italian men were drinking a mixture of Campari, Amperol and prosecco (forget the name, something to do with Italian for "Light"). Seemed like a strange choice, but better then Cynar at least.

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In Liguria this year, the older-Italian men were drinking a mixture of Campari, Amperol and prosecco (forget the name, something to do with Italian for "Light"). Seemed like a strange choice, but better then Cynar at least.

Do you mean Aperol? If so it sounds good.

I love Cynar too!

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Yes, "Amperol" is a typo. The drink was quite good, but a little sweet for me. One think I have noticed about bitters in Italy is that you get a great big glass of the stuff, not just a little twee thimbleful. I had a Montenegro two weeks ago that must have been about 60 mls in total volume.

Cynar is the work of the devil, although it does have the interesting property of sweetening any food you happen to be nibbling on.

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I had a Montenegro two weeks ago that must have been about 60 mls in total volume.

Yes, the Italians do serve a lot - and it's soooo...hic......strong too!

I love Montenegro as well!

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In Liguria this year, the older-Italian men were drinking a mixture of Campari, Amperol and prosecco (forget the name, something to do with Italian for "Light"). Seemed like a strange choice, but better then Cynar at least.

I'm surprised to hear that they drink this in Liguria. When we have been in Venice, this was served to us as a typical Venetian drink, and they called it a "Spritz". One year we actually carried a bottle of Aperol back to the US from Venice, it is so good!! (That bottle was heavy-- and delicate!!)

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A repeated question, but i'm still curious - where does Campari fit in all this? Friends currently traveling in Italy have found a Campari and soda indispensible pre-dinner. Although I did try a few times, I couldn't get past the bitterness. Stuck with Bianco and ice, slice of blood orange. 'Tis the sweet tooth talking, there.

More on herbal elixirs, however - for a good, ginger kick, try Becherovka - a Czech drink, comes in a funky green bottle...good for tummies. Also makes a good cocktail, called a Beton - shot of Becher, fizzy water and a lemon slice.

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Great overview of the big amari producers, but what is the discussion doing in wine??? 

regards,

trillium

Amaro follows wine. They are intricately intertwined in the universe.

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A repeated question, but i'm still curious - where does Campari fit in all this? Friends currently traveling in Italy have found a Campari and soda indispensible pre-dinner. Although I did try a few times, I couldn't get past the bitterness. Stuck with Bianco and ice, slice of blood orange. 'Tis the sweet tooth talking, there.

More on herbal elixirs, however - for a good, ginger kick, try Becherovka - a Czech drink, comes in a funky green bottle...good for tummies. Also makes a good cocktail, called a Beton - shot of Becher, fizzy water and a lemon slice.

Campari is not an amaro although it is certainly bitter. As far as I know it is only consumed as an aperitif. Italians love bitter drinks. There are a bunch of bitter soft drinks too.

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Here's another story idea, Craig: wander around Friuli trying all the home-brewed grappas. When we spent 10 days near Trieste a few years back it seemed like everybody had their own recipe for Italian moonshine.

I did this once, but I forgot where I put my notes - and my car.

My neighbor upstairs makes his own grappa and this year it is damn good. Actually better than you get at a bar if you just order grappa bianca. I have not gone blind yet so he has improved it a lot from his first effort.

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Campari is not an amaro although it is certainly bitter. As far as I know it is only consumed as an aperitif. Italians love bitter drinks. There are a bunch of bitter soft drinks too.

Ah, good point! I, too, have noticed that Campari is commonly an aperitivo (or just a drink all by itself) and never a digestivo. Since an amaro is, in essence, a digestivo then Campari cannot be an amaro. Same thing for Cynar, you think? I also wouldn't think of Cynar after dinner.

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Craig... where do you think things like Campari and Cynar (which I prefer to Campari) fall?  Would you consider them amari?  Or, if not, then what are they?

I love Campari and drink it all sorts of ways. My favorite at home is to mix it with cheap prosecco. I also drink Aperol a lot because of the wonderful orange flavors.

My good friend Roberto drags me out at least once a week for Campari shakeratos which are guaranteed to pump up both your mood and appetite.

My Cynar bottles go slower but I still like it very much. I usually drink it on the rocks with a wedge of orange.

For whatever reason these are not considered amari, but they are certainly in the family.

Italy is a great place to drink.

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In Liguria this year, the older-Italian men were drinking a mixture of Campari, Amperol and prosecco (forget the name, something to do with Italian for "Light"). Seemed like a strange choice, but better then Cynar at least.

I'm surprised to hear that they drink this in Liguria. When we have been in Venice, this was served to us as a typical Venetian drink, and they called it a "Spritz". One year we actually carried a bottle of Aperol back to the US from Venice, it is so good!! (That bottle was heavy-- and delicate!!)

Aperol is a great product. I love it with prosecco as an aperitif. The lovely orange flavor with the bubbles is a wonderful start to a meal. It is also very low in alcohol so your palate stays alive.

For some reason it is not sold in the USA.

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