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I was introduced to the whole concept of amaro (Italian for bitter) in Italy, and I've come to really like the stuff. We usually have Averna, a Sicilian amaro, on hand, but Christopher at GT served us a digestivo of Amaro Nonino that was really nice.

Nonino is a distiller in Friuli known for grappa and pure fruit distillates, but I'd never had the amaro (Oregon has liquor laws that harken back to Prohibition). I was able to track down a couple of bottles in Brooklyn just before our plane left.

As the weather has warmed up, I've been drinking a cocktail of about 1/3 amaro and 2/3 fizzy mineral water over crushed ice. Very refreshing and tasting a little like cola, but without the sugar.

Jim

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I like Braulio,which I've only been able to find at the Italian Wine Center on 187th St. in the Bronx.It's a liitle less sweet than Averna.Any other favorites?

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Italy has dozens of amari and even though the word means bitter, many of them are sweet.

They are usually served before dinner as an aperitf or as a digestivo after dinner.

My favorites are Braulio, Montenegro, Nonnino, Ciociaro, Nocello, China Martini and... what am I talking about, I like them all.

Most if not all of these and more are available on Arthur Avenue, in the Bronx.

Frank

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I was asked in another thread to start something on making an amaro, since I mentioned I was going to try. My favorite amaro, Amaro Lucano, has a very nice website where I read up on some of the herbs they use. For a basic idea of proportions of bitter herbs to sweet ones, I found a miningco article on infusing liqueurs very useful (beware of all the cookies and bots they write onto your hard drive). I'm going to try out Kyle's recipe, but add some angelica and wormwood to the infusion, because I already know that I really like the taste of angelica in my amari. Depending on how things smell, I may take out a few ingredients he calls for, I haven't decided.

I would love to hear of any other resources people have found to make amari at home.

regards,

trillium

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Trillium,

I was talking to Marco (from Bastas) just the other day, and he told he had just bought some wormwood at the Chinese pharmacy for an amaro. He makes a lot of infused alcohols, and he has an Italian book with recipes that he's willing to share...Bastas has a nice happy hour, so you can go in for drink and bite and copy a few.

I had some Nonino amaro when we were in NYC last spring and was able to find a couple of bottles in Brooklyn just before we came home (for you non-Oregonians, we live in a state with incredibly strict liquor laws, and it's hard to find any spirits that aren't mainstream).

Where do you get the Lucano? We like Averno okay, but it's no match for the Nonino. It does make a very nice warm weather aperitif with soda (or fizzy mineral water) over ice.

Jim

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Trillium,

I was talking to Marco (from Bastas) just the other day, and he told he had just bought some wormwood at the Chinese pharmacy for an amaro. He makes a lot of infused alcohols, and he has an Italian book with recipes that he's willing to share...Bastas has a nice happy hour, so you can go in for drink and bite and copy a few.

I had some Nonino amaro when we were in NYC last spring and was able to find a couple of bottles in Brooklyn just before we came home (for you non-Oregonians, we live in a state with incredibly strict liquor laws, and it's hard to find any spirits that aren't mainstream).

Where do you get the Lucano? We like Averno okay, but it's no match for the Nonino. It does make a very nice warm weather aperitif with soda (or fizzy mineral water) over ice.

Jim

What a great idea to go to a Chinese herbal store for supplies! We buy things at Chinese herbal stores for tonics and cooking, but it never occured to me to buy amaro supplies there (duh). I was going to buy stuff at health food stores (Limbo has a good selection here in Portland) but they didn't have all of the ingredients so I was contemplating mail order. I'll also try to make it to Basta's and drop your name to Marco so I can have a peek in his book. Is he there all the time?

I get the Lucano (and a nice selection of other amari) at Sam's Wine in Chicago. I had no idea I was so spoiled about my liquor stores until I moved to Oregon. It's just one step out of prohibition here! Anyway, Sam's has great prices on almost anything you can buy in the US (except HangerOne vodkas, but I don't care because I don't drink vodka) and we did a big order during their wherehouse sale so it made up for the shipping fees. I'm glad you like the Nonino, I was disappointed with the di Serraville and was worried the Nonino was going to be a dud too.

regards,

trillium

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Marco is usually there, but if he's not the staff can probably get the book...it's usually behind the bar someplace.

If you get a bite I highly recommend the grilled calamari with lentils.

Jim

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As an Amaro novice, I'm faced with the decision of choosing Montenegro, Lucano or Nonino Quintessentia as the options available where I live. I don't know anything about them, their similarities, their differences or whether there's good reason to have more than one of them but would very much like to learn. The Nonino goes for about double the price of the other two through the LCBO but that's not an important consideration. I don't mind spending more, I just mind spending more for no good reason. Anyway, please educate me.

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Amari--unfortunately or not, depending on how one looks at things--are as quirky as the rum category. Many recipes calibrated for one will fall apart with another. Is there any way you can try a few in a bar to gauge your palate before plunking down on a whole bottle? At least that way you'll know if you like a given amaro straight (best to get to know each other before you're married, and all that).

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Amari--unfortunately or not, depending on how one looks at things--are as quirky as the rum category. Many recipes calibrated for one will fall apart with another. Is there any way you can try a few in a bar to gauge your palate before plunking down on a whole bottle? At least that way you'll know if you like a given amaro straight (best to get to know each other before you're married, and all that).

Nope. That was the suggestion Chris Amirault gave me as well and it's a good one but not an option where I live. As I told him, my home bar is far better stocked than any bar within at least 5 hours of where I live. It's better stocked as far as range of booze types go than the liquor stores in my area. I accomplished that through careful special ordering and people bringing me things from other areas when they visit. I live in a very small, remote town in Ontario, Canada, a true cocktail bar doesn't even exist for hours in any direction. I'm open to eventually getting them all, I just didn't want to get them all just to find out they were different labels on the same thing. You've answered that question for me.

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32cook: Here's an amari guide I wrote/edited. I welcome feedback and other opinions.

If you are thinking of mixing with them, then Lucano would be my clear choice. I'm surprised you can get it, because it's uncommon in in Boston. I got it in the Italian section of town. It is a typical dark brown amaro, full of earthy, pie-like spices and flavors. You could use it where a calls for Ramazzotti, CioCiaro or Averna, or even Meletti or Luxardo Abano.

I have not had Montenegro personally, but it is very orange forward and very sweet. Some like this as a "novice" amaro, others find it unpleasant. I don't think it would be as universal useful, although I have seen recipes call for it.

For sipping, Nonino is very nice. It is higher in alcohol (35% ABV) and lower in sugar, which makes for a less cloying tipple. It is used in some fabulous cocktails, such as the Paper Plane (Bourbon, Aperol Nonino, Lemon). That said, I call a version of that drink made with Campari and Ramazzotti a Paper Airplane, and I like it at least as much (and Lucano would work fine in that).


Edited by EvergreenDan (log)

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32cook: Here's an amari guide I wrote/edited. I welcome feedback and other opinions.

If you are thinking of mixing with them, then Lucano would be my clear choice. I'm surprised you can get it, because it's uncommon in in Boston. I got it in the Italian section of town. It is a typical dark brown amaro, full of earthy, pie-like spices and flavors. You could use it where a calls for Ramazzotti, CioCiaro or Averna, or even Meletti or Luxardo Abano.

I have not had Montenegro personally, but it is very orange forward and very sweet. Some like this as a "novice" amaro, others find it unpleasant. I don't think it would be as universal useful, although I have seen recipes call for it.

For sipping, Nonino is very nice. It is higher in alcohol (35% ABV) and lower in sugar, which makes for a less cloying tipple. It is used in some fabulous cocktails, such as the Paper Plane (Bourbon, Aperol Nonino, Lemon). That said, I call a version of that drink made with Campari and Ramazzotti a Paper Airplane, and I like it at least as much (and Lucano would work fine in that).

I agree with EvergreenDan's advice here on the Nonino for sipping. It's my absolute favorite amaro - if I had to drink just one for the rest of my life (God forbid) that would be it. Well worth the price.

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I agree that the Nonino is special...it was my first amaro, purchased to make Paper Airplanes (which I do w/ Elijah Craig, Campari, Nonino and Lemon). There's the delightful side-effect that subsequent amari purchases seem entirely reasonable as most are about 1/2 the cost...I guess that's how I ended up with an entire shelf of them in the bar.

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Amari--unfortunately or not, depending on how one looks at things--are as quirky as the rum category. Many recipes calibrated for one will fall apart with another. Is there any way you can try a few in a bar to gauge your palate before plunking down on a whole bottle? At least that way you'll know if you like a given amaro straight (best to get to know each other before you're married, and all that).

Nope. That was the suggestion Chris Amirault gave me as well and it's a good one but not an option where I live. As I told him, my home bar is far better stocked than any bar within at least 5 hours of where I live. It's better stocked as far as range of booze types go than the liquor stores in my area. I accomplished that through careful special ordering and people bringing me things from other areas when they visit. I live in a very small, remote town in Ontario, Canada, a true cocktail bar doesn't even exist for hours in any direction. I'm open to eventually getting them all, I just didn't want to get them all just to find out they were different labels on the same thing. You've answered that question for me.

Bummer. I expect I know the answer, but I'll ask anyway: have you looked to see what's available at Italian restaurants? We can be a surprisingly resourceful people. Stuff shows up at a little mom-and-pop market in my town that I'm amazed by.

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Bummer. I expect I know the answer, but I'll ask anyway: have you looked to see what's available at Italian restaurants? We can be a surprisingly resourceful people. Stuff shows up at a little mom-and-pop market in my town that I'm amazed by.

I doubt that will have positive results in a country with a government liquor monopoly.

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I see Ramazzotti and Averna in the OLCB website, in addition to others mentioned. I recommend them both.

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I see Ramazzotti and Averna in the OLCB website, in addition to others mentioned. I recommend them both.

Sadly, it's not that simple. The LCBO may carry them, but if your local store doesn't, they're under no obligation to have them brought in just because a customer wants them; you have to rely on the goodwill of your local store staff to make that happen.

That said, Ramazzotti and Averna are the only two of the ones under immediate discussion here that I've tried (well, in addition to Fernet Branca, which Vintages carries). I, too, would recommend them both, but I can't help on the three that are available to Tri2Cook locally.

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If those are in the mix I think the Averna is more versatile and absolutely better for sipping. Averna is my #2 after Nonino actually. Ramazzotti is very syrupy, on the sweet side, and has a strong cola taste. I don't think I would ever want to sip it.

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Just to hammer home that taste is, as always, personal, I'll disagree with daisy: I find Averna very syrupy and only use it in cocktails whereas I rather enjoy sipping Ramazzotti (either neat or with an ice cube). That said, I might still give the edge to Averna as it's more commonly called for in cocktails.

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Thanks for the information everybody. The others mentioned are available through the LCBO but not through a store anywhere near where I live. Even the three I mentioned aren't available locally but are available at a store about 5 hours away where I'm having some things picked up by a friend next week. I can sometimes get things ordered in to the local store but they don't always love doing it so I try to save that for something really special (like when Luxardo Maraschino and an actual rye, Sazerac 6, made appearances in the recent past). Sounds like I'll probably grab the Lucano this time around since it's primary purpose will be for mixing and maybe add more down the road.

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Picked up a new-to-me Lazzaroni Amaro today. Pretty sweet, tastes basically like a non-fizzy chinotto. Not unpleasant but not sure what I will do with it aside from maybe drinking straight or topped with soda water or tonic. Anyone run into this one?

P4300001.JPG

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... Lazzaroni Amaro.... Pretty sweet, tastes basically like a non-fizzy chinotto.

Maybe gin and either lemon or lime to echo the bitter orange and cut the sugar. But then just about anything sweet and bitter is good with gin and lemon or lime....

Or maybe with some dry vermouth for a Cocchi Americano-like idea?

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