Two bottles of Italian liqueurs have been languishing in the liquor cabinet and threatened with drain pouring and bottle recycling by the Keeper of the Cabinet (aka spouse). “Oh, noooo…” say I in my best Mr. Bill impersonation. But what will we do with Amaro Montenegro and Amaro CioCiaro?
First, we taste.
Amaro is a distilled Italian liqueur made with a proprietary blend of botanicals and consumed as an aperitif/digestif. The two that we’re testing are very different, but what they have in common is a smoky aroma and somewhat bitter flavor. The lighter Amaro Montenegro is dominated by the spicy scent of clove and fruity orange peel, followed by light aromas of smoke and wood, and hints of vanilla, eucalyptus, and flowers. Lightly bitter orange and black licorice fill the palate and leave with a grapefruit-tasting finish.
The darker Amaro CioCiaro smells like a campfire, cedar and wood smoke. The campfire theme follows through on the palate with the flavor of barbecue charred meat. Although not as complex as the Montenegro, flavors of lemon rind, licorice, and coffee reveal themselves the longer they linger on the tongue.
Besides drinking Amaro neat as a digestif, I discovered a cocktail from Little Sugar Snaps called the Italian American. The measurements in Little Sugar Snaps recipe are given in teaspoons and tablespoons which are fine for lab testing but will need to be stretched to fill my 3 oz. coup glass.
I like a touch of the bitter, but this first iteration is much too bitter for my taste. We experiment by reducing the Campari and changing the lemon juice to our homemade lemon mixer (1/2 lemon juice and ½ simple syrup). The result is a brighter, less bitter version I’ll call the Affable Italian American.
Affable Italian American (for two because it’s more fun to drink with a friend)
- 4 oz. bourbon
- ½ oz. Campari
- ½ oz. Amaro Montenegro
- ½ oz. lemon mixer
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a coup glass.