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#Get Bitter – Amaro cocktails

Last week in advance of both St. Patrick’s Day and Italian Unification Day, I extolled the virtues of Amaro and listed 5 entry level Amari and 5 advanced level Amari to try.

Now that you have ventured into the bitter world, here are some cocktails to let your digestives do double duty and bookend your meal. Turn your Digestivi into Aperitivi!

Here are some fun cocktails to try and discover how versatile Amaro really is!

Let’s GET BITTER!

Sex and Violets

This is a perfect dessert cocktail. It is a touch sweet but not over-bearing; it has a beautiful nose thanks to the Creme de Violette and a wonderful creamy decadence.

As much as I love making and naming cocktails, a big shout out goes to Pete for this name. I think it perfectly sums up the blend of Amaro, chocolate and violets in this drink.

What you need:

  • 1 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1 oz Giffard Creme de Violette
  • 1/2 Giffard Creme de Cacao (I used Giffard Creme de Cacao which Pete brought me out from Calgary)
  • 1 1/2 oz heavy cream
  • Fresh ground pepper

What you do:

  • Fill a martini shaker with ice
  • Add Amaro Nonino, Giffard Creme de Violette, Creme de Cacao and heavy cream
  • Shake until cold (about 20 seconds)
  • Strain into a well-chilled cocktail glass
  • Grind fresh pepper on top

The Paper Plane

One of my favourite creations is the Paper Plane, an Aperitivo that is showing up on many a cocktail list. The drink was created by bartender Sam Ross and named after M.I.A.’s song “Paper Planes” which he happened to be listening to while creating the drink for the opening of The Violet Hour in Chicago. Torontonians have a love affair with this drink which Sam Ross has called “the official drink of Toronto”, although even he says he does not know why. (Side note: Ummmm have you tasted it? It is freaking delicious!)

What you need:

  • 3/4 oz bourbon (I used Bulleit)
  • 3/4 oz Aperol (interesting side note, the original drink contained Campari, but was switched later to Aperol which is now the norm)
  • 3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

What you do:

  • Fill a martini shaker with ice
  • Add bourbon, Aperol, Amaro and lemon juice
  • Shake until cold (about 20 seconds)
  • Pour into a cocktail glass
  • Optional: garnish with a paper plane

Black Manhattan

When writing last week’s post of Amaro, I was amazed at how many cocktails there are out there that contain Amaro. Bartenders love Amaro and are coming up with incredible Amaro cocktails. This drink, the Black Manhattan, first showed up on cocktail menus around 2008.

What you need:

  • 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Amaro Averna
  • 1–2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Brandied cherries (for garnish)

What you do:

  • Fill a martini shaker with ice
  • Add bourbon, Amaro Averna and Angostura bitters
  • Shake until cold (about 20 seconds)
  • Strain into a well-chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish with a brandied cherry

The Black Irish Manhattan

As tomorrow is both St. Patrick’s Day and Italian Unification, we decided to make a cocktail which was a play on the Black Manhattan and pay tribute to both March 17 events. Pete (who is on a naming roll) came up the Black Irish Manhattan. The Angostura Orange bitters is a nod to the original Manhattan recipe.

What you need:

  • 2 oz Bushmills Black Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz Amaro Lucano
  • 1–2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
  • Optional: orange peel for garnish

What you do:

  • Fill a martini shaker with ice
  • Add Bushmills Black Irish whiskey, Amaro Lucano and Angostura orange bitters
  • Shake until cold (about 20 seconds)
  • Strain into a well-chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish with an orange peel

La Mucca Amara (The Bitter Cow)

While I was in Italy, I was amazed by the selection of Amari available at the local grocery stores. One of my fellow cocktail Instagrammers (shout out to Mike @mmydrinks) noticed in one of my photos there was the Varnelli Caffè Moka and immediately suggested that I get some. I, of course, had to listen to him. Once purchased, I was experimenting with what to do with it, and came up with this cocktail, a more advanced riff on the old school Black Cow. (My favourite quote on this drink came from Jason Walsh, cocktail creator @nycmixology who said “that’s like turning a Volkswagen into a Ferrari!”  High praise from a cocktail master!)

What you need:

  • 1 oz Varnelli Caffè Moka (or another coffee liqueur)
  • 1/2 oz Varnelli Amaro Sibilla
  • 2 oz whole milk
  • Ground vanilla cinnamon sugar (for garnish)

What you do:

  • Fill a martini shaker with ice
  • Add Caffè Moka, Amaro Sibilla and milk
  • Shake until cold (about 20 seconds)
  • Strain into a well-chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of vanilla cinnamon sugar

If this post has whet your whistle for Amaro based cocktails and you are interested in trying some other Amaro cocktails, check out the book by Brad Parsons, appropriately called Amaro.



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