Amaretto: What To Know

Amaretto is an Italian sweet liqueur that is used in classic cocktails and desserts.

What Is Amaretto Liqueur?

Amaretto is an Italian liqueur made from apricot kernels, which impart a distinct bitter almond flavour to the liquor. It gets its name from the Italian word for “bitter,” amaro. Brown sugar’s sweeter notes balance out the bitterness of the apricot pits. Amaretto contains 21-28 percent ABV and can be sipped alone or mixed into cocktails.

What Does Amaretto Taste Like?

Amaretto was invented in 1525, according to legend. Bernardino Luini, a student of Leonardo da Vinci at the time, painted a fresco of the Madonna in Saronno. The first bottle of amaretto is said to have been given to Luini as a romantic parting gift by the innkeeper who modelled for him. However, multiple amaretto recipes were likely in existence at the time, as families produced their own unique takes on flavoured liqueurs.

How Is Amaretto Made?

Amaretto producers rarely reveal their secret recipes, but the beverage is made in the same way as other liqueurs: flavourings are steeped in distilled liquor (such as vodka) for weeks to months before being strained out and sweetener added. Flavorings for amaretto may include apricot kernels, bitter or sweet almonds, and warm spices such as cardamom or allspice. Following the removal of the aromatics, amaretto producers add sugar, often in the form of a caramelised or burnt syrup.

5 Ways to Enjoy Amaretto

Amaretto can be served and enjoyed on its own, but it’s also an essential ingredient in classic Amaretto Sours and other cocktail recipes and desserts.

  1. Tiramisu: This Italian dessert of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone is often flavoured with amaretto.
  2. Amaretti are gluten-free Italian cookies made with almond flour, egg whites, amaretto or almond extract, and sugar. Amaretti cookies are meant to be served with a glass of amaro, a herbal bitter aperitif.
  3. Amaretto Sour: An Amaretto Sour is a traditional cocktail made with amaretto, lemon juice, and simple syrup, topped with an orange slice and a cherry.
  4. The Godfather: The Godfather is a mixed drink made with equal parts Scotch whisky and amaretto liqueur and served over ice in a rocks glass.
  5. The French Connection: The French Connection is a classic cocktail made with equal parts cognac and amaretto. The French Connection, named after William Friedkin’s neo-noir film starring Gene Hackman, is a potent brandy cocktail meant to be sipped slowly as a nightcap or after-dinner drink.

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