Featuring more than 100 recipes, Amaro is the first book to demystify the ever-expanding, bittersweet world, and is a must-have for any home cocktail enthusiast or industry professional.
The European tradition of making bittersweet liqueurs--called
amari in Italian--has been around for centuries. But it is only recently that these herbaceous digestifs have moved from the dusty back bar to center stage in the United States, and become a key ingredient on cocktail lists in the country’s best bars and restaurants. Lucky for us, today there is a dizzying range of amaro available—from familiar favorites like Averna and Fernet-Branca, to the growing category of regional, American-made amaro.
Starting with a rip-roaring tour of bars, cafés, and distilleries in Italy, amaro’s spiritual home, Brad Thomas Parsons—author of the James Beard and IACP Award–winner
Bitters—will open your eyes to the rich history and vibrant culture of amaro today. With more than 100 recipes for amaro-centric cocktails, DIY amaro, and even amaro-spiked desserts, you’ll be living (and drinking)
la dolce vita.
“Long before there were chef-driven cocktails, there were monk-driven
digestivi, also known as
amaro. They made us feel better, encouraged post-prandial discourse, and set us up for a better tomorrow. Thanks to Brad Thomas Parsons, we now have a book that properly celebrates the category, and teaches us just how sweet it is to drink what''s bitter.”
– Danny Meyer, founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group
“I am a longtime lover of bitter Italian liqueurs. But this smart handbook has deepened my understanding of and heightened my appreciation for amaro and its kin. Read this and you will be thirsty.”
– Mario Batali
“Brad Thomas Parsons’s
Bitters quickly became the definitive guide to a mysterious but essential cocktail ingredient. He’s done it again with
Amaro, a gorgeous, comprehensive, and delectable exploration of the world’s bittersweet aperitifs and digestifs. Parsons’s passion for the history, culture, and personalities behind these herbaceous concoctions, coupled with Ed Anderson’s gorgeous photography, make
– Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist
“A few things happen as you age: you start really liking yogurt, you talk about seeing ‘other people,’ you’re willing to risk big to let out a memorable
‘Bababooey!’ scream at your son’s piano recital, and, fortunately, you begin to really enjoy bitters. Not only for their taste, but also because they’re a panacea for the middle-aged gut. Amaro is no longer strictly a clever way to deter teenage partygoers from raiding the house bar; it’s a staple ingredient, and it’s about time for such a thoroughly researched and deliciously presented book on the subject.
Amaro is complete and thirst-inducing. Two thumbs up!”
– Frédéric Morin and David McMillan, authors of The Art of Living According to Joe Beef
“Fernet-Branca: what would we do without it? It is certainly my favorite of the amaros; some even say that it cures all known ailments and improves the humors. What a treat to read
Amaro, a book devoted to these bittersweet aids to digestion, health, and happiness.”
– Fergus Henderson, author of The Complete Nose to Tail
"With cocktail recipes, amaro-spiked desserts, and even a guide to making your own amari, this book is a comprehensive guide to the liqueur. But more than just a guide,
Amaro is a book you actually want to read. It’s written by Brad Thomas Parsons, the author of the James Beard and IACP award-winning book on bitters, and its best feature are the recipe headnotes. Ranging from personal anecdotes about cocktails to multiple paragraphs about a classic’s history, you get fun, interesting context with every recipe."
"One man’s love affair with bitter liqueurs…the book is ideally timed: Many Americans in the last few years have discovered the bracing pleasures of drinks like Campari, Aperol, Cynar and even the acerbic Fernet Branca.”
– New York Times
“...Parsons does a terrific job of showcasing [amari] in this collection of over 100 recipes."
– Publishers Weekly
“...Parsons succeeds at opening up exciting possibilities to try at home or seek out at bars."
– Library Journal
"Parsons more than delivers on sweet ways to enjoy the spirit, explains the vast amari family tree and gives tips for how to make your own variety for every season."
"If you''re a fan of Campari, Averna, Cynar, or other bittersweet liqueurs, this book will have your mouth watering and your liquor cabinet collapsing under its own weight."
"Brad Thomas Parsons’s
Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs serves as an Alice-like rabbit hole allowing full immersion in the world of amaro..."
– Wall Street Journal
"The man who might as well change his middle name to “bitter” is back with a follow-up to his award-winning
Bitters. Beautifully photographed by Ed Anderson,
Amaro is as much a desperately needed guide to the opaque and ill-defined world of bitter herbal liqueurs as it is a visual love letter to Italy. ... Parsons once again shows why he’s become one of the drink world’s most reliable voices."
"The amaro craze now has its bible."
– Chicago Reader
"Parsons, whose first book
Bitters: a Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All covered similar territory via bitters, is a natural fit for this material. And his descriptions—both in page-long essays and in descriptive paragraphs for each drink—are biographical, informative, and witty enough to keep even the modestly curious engaged. That is, the index is not your only entry point—you can comfortably and sequentially flip pages."
– Seattle Met
"This book is a deep dive into the history and characteristics of amaro with excellent cocktail recipes. Any cocktail nerd will love reading this book."
– Tampa Bay Times
"With gorgeous photos and 100 original recipes, it will seriously amp up your man’s esoteric cocktail game."
"A must for anyone who has a shelf for cocktail books."
– The Manual
"Parsons lucidly explains how the centuries-old European tradition of digestifs made from complex recipes of ingredients ranging from artichokes to myrrh and often secret combos of mountain herbs became the latest obsession in American cocktail culture."
– Philadelphia Inquirer
"This stylishly-designed volume offers background on the main producers, over a hundred cocktail recipes and a section on how to make your own amaro at home."
"It is a definitive and enlightening take on this oft-misunderstood spirit category that continues to intrigue, perplex and confuse even the most seasoned hands."
– Tales of the Cocktail
Amaro is the most in depth, detailed, and well put together book on the industry’s favorite class of liqueurs. From the better known Campari and Fernet Branca to American-made amari like Calisaya from Oregon, this work is encyclopedic in its scope."
– Star Chefs
Brad Thomas Parsons is the author of
Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs and
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, which was the winner of the James Beard and IACP Cookbook Awards, and a finalist for the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Parsons received an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and his work has appeared in
Food & Wine,
Travel + Leisure,
Punch, and more. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit www.btparsons.com.
Milan’s venerable Bar Basso opened in 1947, and in 1967, Mirko Stocchetto, a bartender from Venice, took over the bar and started adding cocktails to the menu to compete with the city’s larger hotels and cafés. His son Maurizio Stocchetto now runs Bar Basso and you’ll still find a menu of “Classic Cocktails from the Old School” behind the bar, including the White Russian, brandy Alexander, Grasshopper, and Gibson, but the Italian cocktail made famous at Basso is the Negroni Sbagliato.
Sbagliato means “messed up” or “bungled” in Italian, and as the younger Stocchetto tells it, one night in the late 1960s or early 1970s a bartender had accidentally swapped the gin with a bottle of spumante. When his father was making a customer’s Negroni he reached for the spot on the bar where the gin was always kept but instead added the dry sparkling wine to the mix of Campari and vermouth. “The customer said, ‘Let’s try it.’ And he didn’t complain.”
When I asked Stocchetto how many Negroni Sbagliatos he served each day, he just sighed and said “too many.” They normally serve it in a comically large hand-blown stemmed glass, the kind of fishbowl-sized vessel you’re more likely to encounter at a bachelorette party spilling out onto Bourbon Street, but when I ordered one he insisted on making mine in the standard rocks glass. He reminisced about hanging out at the bar as a boy, but he really lit up telling me about his time living in San Francisco in his twenties. His love of the Beats, jazz, and the NHL play-offs remains strong, but he’s particularly entertained by the American fast-food advertisements shown during his beloved hockey games. Taking a pause from serving a customer a supersized Sbagliato, he looked at me and smiled in wonder, “At Subway, they’ll put guacamole on anything you want!”
MAKES 1 DRINK
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Prosecco or sparkling wine
Garnish: orange slice or orange zest
Build the Campari, vermouth, and Prosecco in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with the orange slice or orange zest.