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Amaro di Angostura

Amaro di Angostura


By Robert Plotkin

A sure sign we are evolving as a society is America's growing appreciation of all things bitter. A direct beneficiary of this trend is Amaro di Angostura. The ultra-suave product is one of a growing class of herbal elixirs now competing in the American market. The amaro is crafted with surgical precision by the undisputed king of bitters—the House of Angostura. There are good reasons why Angostura Aromatic Bitters can be found behind every bar in the world.

The company's amaro is made on the Caribbean island of Trinidad at Trinidad Distillers Limited. It is produced on a foundation of molasses-based neutral spirits distilled in the complex's extremely large, five-column still. The blend of botanicals, artomatics, spices and bitter herbs are macerated in the neutral spirits for 3 months to allow the various flavors to fully integrate. Only a select few have access to the well-protected secret recipe for both the bitters and the new Amaro di Angostura.

A quick sniff, sip and swallow confirm why the 70-proof liqueur is a cultural phenomenon in the making. It has a fetching amber/brown appearance, a full, curvaceous body and an enticing bouquet saturated with anise, cinnamon, dark chocolate, sarsaparilla and bitter orange. The longer you allow the amaro breath in the glass, the more of its engaging aromatics come to the forefront.

The soon-to-be-indispensible amaro bathes the palate with spicy warmth and a touch of sweetness. Around the mid-palate the marvelously spicy flavors reemerge before slowly fading to a warming, satisfying finish.

Amaro di Angostura is bound to be a boon to contemporary mixology. Its bitter herbal components make it an ideal ingredient to balance the overly sweet, savory or acidic characteristics present in a wide range of cocktails. Chilled or not, it makes for a thoroughly captivating pleasure to quaff by the shot.

One last comment, should you wish to temper some of the amaro's initial sweetness, simply add a few dashes of Angostura Bitters. They share the same DNA, because both the amaro and bitters share essentially the same botanicals and aromatics.

There are certainly numerous amaros on the market that are excessively bitter. It would have been easy for Angostura to make theirs excessively bitter as well. Instead, they chose to exercise restraint and craft their namesake amaro to be delicious, versatile and tailor-made for the American consumer.