Drink amaro. It’ll change your life – or at least your cocktail

So you have a bit of a cocktail sweet tooth. You think bitter drinks aren’t your style. Can we introduce to our friend amaro?

Last week, bitter evangelists, Sother Teague and Lindsay Matteson from New York’s part bar, part bitters tasting room, Amor y Amargo, flew South for the winter and landed at Decatur’s new S.O.S. Tiki Bar to teach Atlantans the life-changing properties of bitters. Or, at least for your cocktail.

Using potable (drinkable) bitters like amaro (i.e., Campari or Aperol), Teague and Matteson concocted imbibes with an amaro base and a bit of rum or whiskey thrown in for good measure. But, what’s the difference between potable bitters and those little drops you see the bartender putting into your Manhattan at newly opened The Mercury at Ponce City Market ?

Matteson explained, “Tincture bitters are too bitter to drink on their own. Use a couple of dashes in your cocktail like you would use herbs and spices in cooking. To create a potable bitter, sugar and water are added to a tincture bitter. This makes the product sweet enough to drink on its own. For cocktails, you’ll use anywhere from half an ounce to one ounce.”

Unlike its concentrated cousin, the tincture, amaro is great for sipping on the rocks, with a splash of soda water and an orange wheel or in boozier tipples like the Campari and gin-based cocktail, Negroni .

Still not convinced? Matteson suggested virgin amaro imbibers start with a light refresher called the Americano. No, it’s not the espresso drink, but a low-alcohol, vermouth and amaro-based cocktail, “I’ll make an Americano variation (vermouth, amaro, bitters and club soda) using lighter, more fruit-forward amari, like Amaro Montenegro or Aperol, and juicier vermouths like Carpano Bianco or Cocchi Rosa,” she said.

Matteson recommended these Amor y Amargo favorites to begin your bitter cocktail adventure:

Vecchio Amaro Del Capo: Light, bittersweet. Notes of orange and cinnamon.

Amaro dell’Erborista: Light, delicate, bitter. Notes of honey. Great with club soda and twist of grapefruit.

Fernet Branca: Herbaceous, minty, bitter. Great digestif after a heavy meal.

Learn from local cocktail mixer company 18.21 Bitters how to build a better cocktail with your newly acquired amari collection.

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Read the AJC Fall Dining Guide, Atlanta Around the Clock, here.

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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.