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20 April 2006

The Little Bitter

Some drinks trivia for you.
Q: What is the flavor of Amaretto liqueur ?

Disaronno A: It tastes like almonds, of course.

Now, the bonus question.

True or False: Italian Amaretto is made from almonds.

True.  Wait; it's a trick question.  OK, false.  No!  True.  I'm confused.  That true/false statement is one of those questions that makes mortal enemies of pupil and teacher.  The original Amaretto was made in Saronno, Italy by the infusion of brandy with apricot pits.  This was way back in 1525.  Amaretto di Saronno, is still made with apricot pits, along with a caramel-colored sweetener known as gomme syrup.  Oh yeah; now it seems that almond extract is added to the mix.  Amaretto literally means " a little bitter" in Italian.  The modern expression of this beverage is most definitely not a little bitter - rather it is a lot sweet.  However, one can imagine that brandy infused with apricot pits sans sugar and almond extract would indeed be a little bitter.

As with many liqueurs, the history of Amaretto di Saronno has likely been embellished.

"It is claimed that when painter Bernardino Luini was commissioned in 1525 to paint a fresco of the Madonna for the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Saronno, Italy, he had a romantic affair with the young innkeeper whom he had hired to pose for the painting, and she created the liqueur as a gift for her lover."

My guess is that somebody accidentally tossed a bunch of apricot pits into a cask of brandy....and voila! Amaretto was born.

The super sweet, high alcohol nature of this spirit necessitates that it be diluted on the rocks or used as a mixer.  The classic Amaretto cocktail is the Godfather:

2 cl Amaretto, 4 cl whisky, add ice and do your best Brando impression.

If you're interested in expanding your Amaretto cocktail horizons, visit Webtender.  There are 443 drinks made with  the 'little bitter' including the Keith Jackson, Lash, Amaretto Sunrise and my personal favorite - the Wookie (roar required).

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