Local distillery creates amaro with the flavor of Atlanta

Eno Amaro from Murrell's Row Spirits, crafted with 19 botanicals, was made to be a versatile amaro with cocktails in mind.
(Courtesy of Murrell's Row Spirits)

Credit: (Courtesy of Murrell's Row Spirits)

Credit: (Courtesy of Murrell's Row Spirits)

Eno Amaro from Murrell's Row Spirits, crafted with 19 botanicals, was made to be a versatile amaro with cocktails in mind. (Courtesy of Murrell's Row Spirits)

Amaro is a traditional Italian herbal liqueur with a bitter taste, achieved by infusing roots, bark, herbs, fruit, flowers and leaves in a neutral alcoholic base.

In fact, the meaning of the Italian name is “bitter.”

These days, American amaro is having a moment, as more spirit makers craft regional versions. Decatur-based Murrell’s Row Spirits recently debuted its own amaro, Eno.

Created by Bo Brown, Ferrol Lee Mayfield and Nathan Evick, Eno is built for cocktails. Its creators also leaned into its provenance for the flavor profile. In a nod to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, cola-inspired Eno is balanced, but bittersweet, and is made with 19 botanicals.

This cocktail from B Side in Decatur includes Eno amaro and Tulsi gin, both from Murrell's Row Spirits. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Angela Hansberger

icon to expand image

Credit: Angela Hansberger

“Since this is our first amaro, we wanted to make something that represented our region,” Brown said. “We couldn’t draw from the mountainous ingredients, like the Alpine style amari of Italy, so we felt cola botanicals were fitting.”

Like Coke, the flavor is driven by citrus (from orange, bitter orange, lemon and lime) and baking spices of allspice and clove. It’s pleasingly herbaceous, with a dose of hyssop for traditional grassiness and gentian root for bitterness. Sweetness comes from vanilla and cane sugar and rhubarb root lends earthiness. Whole botanicals are used, with no extracts and no coloring.

It is sweet to start, and bitter at the finish — just what you want to cleanse the palate before or after a meal.

It took 100 attempts for the team to settle on the final recipe for Eno. They dissected favorite amari, and all their various nuances, to find a mixture with a unique flavor profile. Recipe development included research, which they noted was difficult, because of the lack of transparency in the making of amari. A book on Italian liqueurs provided a launching point for ingredients that most often are used.

Alchemy and chemistry were next — obtaining botanicals, making tinctures and creating distillates. After they understood the flavors better, recipe development commenced in 2020.

“Very small tweaks of ingredients can have a big effect on the final flavor profile, and many batches were a total failure,” Brown said, with some too bitter or medicinal-tasting.

Some of the ingredients they settled on are distilled and blended back in. Once everything is blended, the amaro needs to rest for at least two months, to allow the flavors to marry.

“Our unique palates and tastes helped shape the final recipe,” Mayfield said.

Everything from design to recipe development is a collaborative effort at Murrell’s Row. “We enjoy deep-diving into history, recipes and ingredients,” Mayfield said.

Even the distillery’s name comes from research into the city of Atlanta’s history. Murrell’s Row was a lawless area in the mid-1800s — located near today’s Five Points — that was known for snake oil peddlers, misdeeds and folks known as “rowdies.”

Founded in 2015, Murrell’s Row Spirits is known for its gins. “We love gin and that will always be the foundation of our distillery,” Brown said, “but amaro was always going to happen and we are really excited to start branching out.”

Brown and Mayfield previously helmed the bar at Brick Store Pub in Decatur for 10 years. Evick’s career in sales rounds out the trio’s expertise.

The design of Eno’s label envisioned by the trio and tweaked by a designer — is much like the recipe. The woodblock-inspired style features a bird of paradise. On the side, a mystical eye looks down on a flowering plant, perhaps one of the botanicals in the recipe, guarded much like the secrets in Italian amari.

Murrell’s Row Eno amaro. $33 per 750-milliliter bottle; available in metro area stores, restaurants and bars. murrellsrowspirits.com

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