Here’s four amari cocktail recipes & five bottlings to look at


This month we’re plunging into the bitter and at times challenging world of amari. What is this amari we speak of? We’re using the term to describe what are otherwise termed potable bitters (as opposed to aromatic bitters — not that they themselves aren’t potable, of course).

Amari is the plural of amaro, just so you know, and it is used to describe a plethora of somewhat bitter-tasting drinks flavoured with herbs and spices and roots most identifiable with Italy’s digestifs; Campari, Amaro Montenegro, and Fernet Branca are counted among their number.

But the category isn’t limited to that boot-shaped country in the Mediterranean. You can find them in France, in Mexico (as is the case with Fernet-Vallet), and even as far flung as Australia, Applewood Distillery’s Okar being one example.

But given their challenging flavour profile, using them in your cocktails does require some thought.


“I have probably two favourite ways to use them,” says Dimitri Rtshiladze of Mechanics Institute in Perth. “Firstly as a base for a drink, a lower alcohol option with full flavour. The variety of flavours in the category really lends them to pretty much any style of drink.

“Secondly I like using amari as an additive or secondary ingredients. The bitterness really drives the flavour and length in drinks. You can use them in dashes to replace bitters, or for aromas on top of drinks etcetera. Also cutting them into classic recipes; for instance take 15ml of bourbon away from a whiskey sour, and replace it with Amaro Montenegro — I challenge someone to not enjoy that drink. Endless fun can be had.”

Rtshiladze doesn’t limit his amari to mixed drinks, however: “Actually there is a third [way to use them]: in a shot, what bartender doesn’t like a shot of bitter goodness?”

Cristiano Beretta, of The Rook in Sydney and himself of Italian origins is quite familiar with amari.

“I am indeed a fan of amari. As an Italian I am quite familiar with the category and what I like about them is the different flavour profiles that you can get depending on their provenance.

He says that the ritual is important when it comes to drinking amari in Italy.

“For us Italians it’s a kind of ritual. Because our lives are focused on having good times with friends around a dinner table full of great food, we are always ending up having a coffee and finishing the meal with an amaro or two.”

Take a look here at four striking ways in which to employ amari in your cocktails, and check out a few different bottlings.


Black Negroni

25ml charcoal and lemon myrtle infused gin
25ml Averna
25ml La Quintinye Blanc

Build ingredients in rocks glass, garnish with pink grapefruit.

Recipe by Nick Selvadurai, Ugly Duckling


Amaro Cobbler

50ml Amaro di Angostura
30ml lemon juice
15ml pineapple syrup
10ml dry vermouth
Dash of Angostura Orange Bitters

Build over crushed ice in a tin cup. Garnish with mint and fruit.

Recipe by James Irvine, Shady Pines Saloon


Five Card Draw

30ml rye whiskey
30ml Angostura 7 Year Old
20ml Campari
10ml chipotle-infused vermouth
Dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Stir down all ingredients and serve up, garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe by James Irvine, Shady Pines Saloon


Whiskey Amaro Sour

50ml rye whiskey
30ml lemon juice
20ml Amaro Montenegro
2.5ml sugar syrup
Dash of egg white

Dry shake then shake all ingredients with ice. Strain over ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a bitters stained lemon.

Amaro di Angostura
Bottled at 35% ABV, Amaro di Angostura is a deep amber colour, offering aromas of cinnamon, dark chocolate and unmistakable Angostura aromatic bitters. The flavours explode on the tongue with warm cinnamon and liquorice notes.

Arguably the most recognisable bitter in the world, the carmine-hued Campari is a staple of the aperitivo hour, and used in more classic cocktails than we have space to mention (the Negroni and the S’bagliato spring to mind, though).
Campari Australia

Averna still made using the same recipe made popular by Salvatore Averna in Caltanissetta in 1868, and is the second-highest selling bitter in Italy. It’s velvety on the palate, with a rich taste and a delicate citrus fragrance.
Campari Australia

Bottled at 35% ABV, Amaro di Angostura is a deep amber colour, offering aromas of cinnamon, dark chocolate and unmistakable Angostura aromatic bitters. The flavours explode on the tongue with warm cinnamon and liquorice notes.

Amaro Montenegro
Amaro Montenegro has a golden brown hue, aromas of vanilla, citrus, florals and honey, is sweet and full on the palate burnt orange and herbal characters.
Combined Wines

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