Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ask the Bar Man

Q: What is Amaro?  -- Will, Chevy Chase

A. Amaro refers to an Italian after-dinner liqueur that has been around for centuries. Monasteries have been making them for centuries for medicinal purposes, primarily to help aid in digestion. Around the mid 1800’s, the first commercially available amari (plural of amaro) started to become available. The brands which are still popular today such as Averna, Fernet Branca, Amaro Montenegro, and Zucca appeared then.

Unlike the many of the spirits being made today, there are no guidelines in what goes in amari or how they are made. They can range from being made with neutral grain spirits to wine to being distilled from beets or something like artichoke leaves.  Of course, this creates a wide array of flavors. Most are herbaceous, some say bitter, (which is what amaro means in Italian) but all are quite unique.

For an intro amaro, I always recommend Averna. It has caramel added to it to sweeten it up, and that certainly helps people enjoy it more than others. Fernet Branca has quite a bit of mint in its flavor profile. Don’t expect to drink an Italian mint julep, however! There are around 40 different herbs and spices in their recipe!

Amari isn’t for everyone, but I find them fascinating. After a heavy meal, I’ll ask about a restaurant’s selection or enjoy one when I get back home.  Next time you’re at Fiola, ask about our selection. You’ll be glad you did!


Bar Manager Jeff Faile