Your 5 minute guide to Amaro
Amaro, meaning “bitter” in Italian, certainly lives up to its name.
Amari (plural of amaro) are an incredibly diverse range of drinks well worth exploring. Amari rose to popularity in the 1900s, with popular brands like Campari and Fernet Branca becoming synonymous with Italian culture, so much so that a whole hour of the day became dedicated to them. Like many great Italian trends, Aperitivo hour has spread the world over.
Today, Amaro is everywhere. Any self-respecting bar will offer a Negroni or some variation of it, and you'll find Aperol spritzes being enjoyed in almost every restaurant over summer.
But what actually are Amari? They can be hard to define. Simply put Amari are liqueurs with a bit of an edge. They’re made by infusing a base spirit with a myriad of botanicals like fruit, roots, bark and herbs. They tend to speak of the place where they come from, with the use of locally sourced botanicals in the distillation process.
There are two categories we put Amaro into, Aperitivo or Digestivo. These two categories help determine when you’ll be enjoying a specific Amaro. Amaro Aperitivo are often lower in alcohol and are traditionally enjoyed leisurely throughout the day or before meals. Amaro Digestivo are named so for their famed medicinal properties in aiding digestion. They are commonly enjoyed at the end of a meal, as a bookend to a night of great food and company.
Aperitivo or Digestivo can usually be spotted using colour as an indicator. Aperitivo Amaro have a lucent, vibrant colour, like the famous red and orange of Campari and Aperol. Digestivo Amaro on the other hand, tend to be darker and more syrupy-looking, like Averna or Fernet Branca.
The ways you can enjoy Amaro are as diverse as the beverage itself. Both Aperitivo and Digestivo are famed components in countless cocktails, at the same time as being renowned for creating easy, no fuss drinks. The ease of an Aperitivo Amaro over ice with soda water (essentially soda pop for adults) is amazing.
Like the sound of a sprinkler in the back garden, during summertime all bartenders hear is Spritz, Spritz, Spritz. This refreshing beverage is so easy to make and is a great way to spoil your mates when having them over. Just follow the brilliantly simple 3:2:1 Spritz ratio, like the ratio for our Sardinian Spritz - 90ml sparkling wine : 60ml Aspide : 30ml soda.
Digestivo Amaro are traditionally enjoyed neat or over ice. Grabbing a bottle at the end of the meal and pouring everyone a Digestivo like Amaro Montenegro or Amaro Torino is not just a great Italian custom, but also a boss move.
If you want to practise your Brian Flanagan moves, try making a Hanky Panky, where Fernet Branca adds all the intrigue. For a modern take on a Negroni, swap out Campari for locally produced L'Opera, or the Australian made Okar.
With back bars and shelves bursting with exciting options from all around the globe there has never been a better time to explore the Amaro. Dive right in!