Did you overindulge to end the old year and welcome the new?
Then it’s time for amari. These beverages are imbibed throughout as a digestif, a remedy or simply as a very good drink.
Classic examples are Chartreuse, the great, complex concoction associated with the Carthusian monks in France; and Pimm’s No. 1, the light and slightly bitter one that refreshes the crowds at Wimbledon and throughout the United Kingdom.
Many of the most popular amari come from Italy. Think about Campari, Cynar, Fernet-Branca, Aperol and Averna. They’re each distinctive and, in varying degrees, effective at getting the job done and providing some pleasure in the process.
An easygoing, generally sweeter choice from Bologna is Montenegro Amaro Italiano, which tastes fine straight up, on the rocks, and works with sparkling water, too. You also can add a new note to a favorite cocktail. It’s particularly good in a variation on the Negroni, the classic drink traditionally made with Campari. The recipe for the amber-hued Montenegro, as with other amari, is a closely held secret. The amaro includes 40 herbs and spices. The process involves macerating the herbs, creating an extract, and distilling it. A sip or two suggests flavors as different from each other as orange peel and coriander. A bottle is about $29.
To learn more about amari, as well as bitters, consider “Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari” (Andrews McMeel, $25) by Mark Bitterman. In addition to history, profiles and science, Bitterman offers satisfying recipes.