Amaro is an Italian drink that’s typically used as an after-dinner drink, so when your tummy is full, there’s usually enough room for some bittersweet amaro. The beverage has been popular for a long time and the Italians that immigrated to the United States in the 1900s blessed us all with this Italian herb liqueur. While amaro is unique to Italy, it’s common for other countries in Europe to have a similar beverage.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about amaro, and why it’s become a staple as a digestive aid after a big bowl of Italian pasta. We’ll also take you through how it’s made and provide you with some facts you can impress your friends with at your next dinner party.
Amaro Liqueur: The Main Facts
Amaro is a bittersweet liqueur that’s made in Italy, so even if you have a similar drink, it must be Italian to be considered amaro. Moreover, amaro needs to be an herbal liqueur, which is a type of liqueur that’s made by mixing alcohol with several botanical ingredients. These ingredients vary from manufacturer to manufacturer because nobody wants to give away the recipe for their secret blend of amaro.
When it comes to amaro’s taste, your tongue will experience a dance of many flavors. While it’s an after-dinner drink, it’s more on the bitter side when you compare it to something like Irish cream. It’s also not as thick or sweet as some other after-dinner liqueurs like amaretto. That said, it’s not all bitter and does carry some sweetness when you take a sip.
What Is the Alcohol Content of Amaro Liqueur?
Amaro has a wide range of alcohol contents because of the various manufacturers that produce it. On average, expect amaro to have around 20-30% ABV. However, it’s not uncommon to find some sweeter options with closer to 15% ABV or more bitter amaros with upwards of 40% ABV.
What Is Amaro Liqueur Made From?
Amaro liqueur is made from many ingredients. It can be made with a few types of alcohol and a lot of herbs. The traditional way of making amaro is by mixing brandy with several herbs including spices, aromatic bark, and flowers. For the drink to be an amaro, it’s important for most of the ingredients to come from Italy. Otherwise, it’s not an Italian amaro.
While not all recipes are the same, some ingredients are known for being in an amaro, aside from brandy. Some of these botanical ingredients include bitter aloe, elderberry, musk yarrow, woodworm, ruta, and clary sage. Depending on the type of brandy used, along with how bitter the amaro is, ingredients like bitter orange and Angelica root might be incorporated into the drink.
Remember, every blend of amaro is different and many manufacturers don’t release their recipes to avoid being copied.
What Is the Primary Ingredient of Amaro Liqueur?
The primary ingredient of amaro is typically a grape brandy. Grape brandy functions as the base, and then other botanical ingredients are infused with the brandy to get amaro. Other types of brandy may also be used as the primary ingredient depending on the amaro manufacturer. Wine can also be the primary ingredient of amaro.
How Is Amaro Liqueur Made?
The process of making amaro isn’t too complicated but companies keep their recipes a secret to avoid someone copying their blend. While you won’t find the ingredients or instructions to make amaro on a label, we do know how most types of amaro are made.
The first step to making a good amaro is using a brandy base. Most companies use grape brandy because it pairs well with other botanical and herbal ingredients that are commonly found in amaro. Some types of wines are also used in amaro, so keep this in mind when choosing the amaro you want to drink.
Aside from the wine or brandy base, a good amaro has a combination of botanical and herbal ingredients. In fact, Amaro Montenegro is made with 40 botanicals.
Once the ingredients are acquired, they are mixed through boiling, maceration, and distillation. Some amaro makers will use one or all three of these methods. For example, Amaro Montenegro uses a combination of booking, maceration, and distillation to create their signature amaro.
The last step is to age the amaro and mix in other ingredients like sugar to sweeten the drink.
How Is Amaro Liqueur Distilled or Filtered?
Amaro is distilled in different ways depending on the manufacturer. The best example is Amaro Montenegro, which incorporates maceration, boiling, and distillation. The brandy or wine is distilled to about 20-40% ABV, the herbs go through maceration, and the entire blend is boiled to get the desired result.
Can You Make Amaro Liqueur Yourself?
Yes, you can make amaro yourself. However, it’s a bad idea if you’re not an experienced distillery. You have to start by distilling your own brandy, and then you need to combine up to 40 botanical ingredients that range from spices to flowers. This is a tall task for even an average distillery. Additionally, you would have to make sure all of the ingredients are sourced from Italy or it won’t even be a legitimate amaro.
Enjoy a Delicious Amaro Liqueur Today!
Amaro is one of the best after-dinner drinks you can have if you dislike the creamier options like Irish Cream. Plus, you can show a touch of class at the dinner table when everyone else is drinking Irish cream while you sip your delicious amaro.
Always make sure you get amaro from a reputable carrier if you can’t make it yourself and ask the restaurant you’re sitting in where their amaro comes from to get an idea of its legitimacy. We know this sounds extra, but Italians take their amaro seriously.