Amaro or its plural amari simply means “bitter” and it perfectly describes the one characteristic consumers should expect from every bottle in this category. But amaro’s complexity is much more than that. Tad Carducci, Director of Outreach and Engagement for Gruppo Montenegro–Montenegro being one of the most approachable and widely available amari in the U.S.–describes its impact on the palate: “The depth of its tasting notes alone tricks the brain into thinking you’re drinking a cocktail,” he says. “The spirit is rich in citrus with a balanced complexity of sweet and bitter oranges. It’s followed by notes of cedar, baking spices and flowers.
There are many types of amari on the American beverage market. Some are imported, while others are from other countries. Others are made in America. Each one has its own blend of botanicals that gives it a bitter, balanced taste. Campari, an amaro that has been a staple of American cocktail culture for many years, is relatively new to the American general drinking culture. American drinkers are often introduced to amari through cocktails, as with many spirits categories. Amaro Santoni, 2022 NY International Spirits Competition Gold Winner, and Brucato Amaro Woodlands Silver Winners were among the award-winning amari. We also featured them in a story about capturing California terroir and Lucano Anniversario Amaro.
Max Stampa Brown, NYC’s Garret Bars Beverage Director says that “Amaro knows no bounds’ ‘. Amari can be enjoyed neat, or with a digestive, but Amari is becoming a more popular and versatile tool for American bartenders who are looking to diversify their cocktail menus. Amari adds depth and complexity to cocktails that don’t have dozens of ingredients.
Stampa-Brown says that “Amaro can be a great balancer, or even a disrupter.” It can be used to replace a herb in an herbaceous cocktail, or as a sweetener for a tropical cocktail. An amaro can be used as a seasoning ingredient in cocktails, or even as a base for nostalgic low-ABV cocktails if you have the right inspiration.
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