Amaro, It's Not Just for After Dinner

Chad Lawrence

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If bottles could walk and if they had their own fashion show, it would be amaro stealing the spotlight. Though in vogue, this category of bittersweet herbal Italian liqueur isn’t exactly new. In fact, we’ve been making the stuff for centuries, but only in the last decade have bartenders been using it with frequency. Traditionally, amaro is consumed after a meal to settle the stomach, but consider trying it before, too. It’ll excite the palate, with enough depth of flavor to almost act as an appetizer unto itself. And, if you fancy yourself a cocktail aficionado, consider adding these three tricks to your repertoire:

1. Use an orange-forward amaro, like Nonino, instead of your regular orange liqueur next time you make that Cosmo (can anyone say guilty pleasure?). It’ll add a wonderful depth of flavor that will serve to elevate the other ingredients in the drink.

Amaro Cosmo with Amaro Nonino $51

  • Fill a shaker half full with ice

  • Add 1.5 oz vodka

  • 0.5 oz Nonino Amaro,

  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice,

  • 1 oz cranberry juice,

  • And 0.25 oz simple syrup

  • Cover and shake then strain into a martini glass

2. Next time your grumpy Uncle Dale comes over, sneak some Fernet-Branca into his cola, instead of his usual rye whisky. This is the working-class drink of Argentina, and they have more taste in their left pinky than most of us do altogether. Nobody should ever be above a good highball.

Fernet con Coca with Fernet-Branca $27

  • Pour yourself a 1 oz measure of fernet (or 2 oz for a double)

  • Top with coke into a rocks glass with ice

3. Lastly, try spicing up your Old Fashioned with the addition of two different amari: Dell'Erborista and Averna. Here’s the recipe for the Bitter Ends, a closely guarded secret of Proof Cocktail Bar, made public for the first time!!

The Bitter Ends with Amaro Dell’Erborista $44.50 & Averna Amaro $41

  • Pour a bar spoon of Dell'Erborista and 0.25 oz of aquavit onto a sugar cube in a mixing glass

  • Muddle the cube, then add 0.5 oz of Averna and 1.5 oz of your favorite high-proof bourbon

  • Stir, serve on a king cube, and garnish with a grapefruit zest

Or, just ask for the Bitter Ends at Proof!