What are some other amari to try if I like Averna?
March 13, 2018 4:38 PM   Subscribe

I really like Amaro Averna and would like to try some others that are a little more off-the-beaten-path. I've tried all the big names (which for me is Fernet Branca, Cynar, Campari, Aperol) and Averna is far and away my favorite. Luckily for me, there's a bar and a few liquor stores near me that have many rare and unusual amaro options. If I enjoy the chocolate and coffee notes of Averna, and its slightly sweeter flavor, what might I be a fan of that I haven't heard of before?
posted by capricorn to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I would recommend your next stop be Nonino. Much closer to Averno than to Fernet or Cynar.
posted by mhum at 5:00 PM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

It's pretty obscure but your question makes me think of St. Agrestis. I suppose I'd describe its primary flavor as root beer, but it goes great with coffee.
posted by ferret branca at 5:20 PM on March 13, 2018

Response by poster: posted by ferret branca

posted by capricorn at 5:21 PM on March 13, 2018 [8 favorites]

Mmmmaybe nardini? Caveat that I've never had it straight. But mostly I wanted to comment that I love this question and I'm going to try everything that gets suggested.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:32 PM on March 13, 2018

Also looking forward to the answers here.

It's been a little while since I've had it (or Averna - both are just a tad sweeter than I'd usually pick), but Hum might be worth a try.
posted by eotvos at 5:50 PM on March 13, 2018

Second the Nonino recommendation. Was out the other night and had a very tasty Amaro CioCiaro. Try that too!
posted by zackola at 5:57 PM on March 13, 2018

Meletti is one of my favorite amari, so I'm a little biased, but you might want to check it out. It's on the sweeter side, and has a little bit of chocolate to it, though to my palate the main note is cinnamon.
posted by dfan at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2018

I am here to argue against Meletti which to me tastes like either lilac or lavender, I can't remember which because all I know is it's like drinking grandmother perfume. It's literally the only amaro I've ever disliked.

I would say if you can find the Angostura amaro (not the bitters, but same company / brand name) that's a big sweet one that doesn't fight much, same as Averna.
posted by komara at 6:45 PM on March 13, 2018

If you can find mirto, it's really great. It's Sardinian, and distilled from myrtle. A beautiful, rich piney/herbal flavor. Sweet, as you describe.

In a somewhat similar vein, but not an amaro--you might try a Cap Corse, from Corsica. It's a fortified wine, and one I've not had in a few years, but recall fondly for its unique flavor.

I don't have any particular brands to recommend of either; though I think this was the mirto I last bought (at Eataly in NYC; do you have one in DC?).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:48 PM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

My taste in amari is nearly the exact opposite, and I'm here to warn you off the one that even I can't stand: Elisir Novasalis, because it makes Fernet Branca drink like water.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:15 PM on March 13, 2018

If you can find it, try Brovo 14 -- an American amaro with a lovely complex chocolate/tonka/herbal profile.

If you run across it, and if you don't mind a little mint, Arcane's fernet is nice and chocolatey as well.
posted by halation at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2018

oh also, have you tried cardamaro?
posted by halation at 7:25 PM on March 13, 2018

Oh yeah, I eponysterically love Arcane's fernet too! You might like it as well. I've met the maker and he seems really cool.
posted by ferret branca at 7:35 PM on March 13, 2018

Mentioned above, but the Nardini amaro is also quite good. I just raided the liquor cabinet to see what amari I have, and that was in the back. Like thick, sweet coffee, almost, with a herbal hint. What a nice AskMe to encounter on this horrible snowy day. (Edit to add: I am drinking the black bottle pictured on the linked page. I don't know if there is a difference between it and the red.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:39 PM on March 13, 2018

We went to a blind amaro tasting in November. Here are my tasting notes. Italics for the revealed names of everything, except for the Fernet-Branca, which I didn't need them to identify for me.
  1. Lighter body. Maple syrup, milk chocolate, orange, baking spice. Montenegro.
  2. Coffee, burnt sugar, cola. Sweet. Dell’Erborista. (Sweetened with honey)
  3. Like Averna but more bitter. Braulio!
  4. More cola. Toffee. Touch of spearmint. Pine. Sibilla. (Sweetened with honey)
  5. Super sweet like Diet Coke. Don Ciccio Amaro Delle Sirene.
  6. Coca-Cola plus licorice. Lucano.
  7. Markedly less sweet. Medicinal. Hoppy, piney bitterness. Don Ciccio Don Fernet.
  8. Coca-Cola plus vanilla and black pepper. Very sweet. Averna.
  9. Sweet but not too sweet. Vanilla, orange peel, caramel. Pine, rosemary? Lucano Anniversario.
  10. Like a simpler, less syrupy Averna. Candied grapefruit. Cynar? Cynar!
  11. Grapefruit and caramel. Subtle but lingering bitterness. Don Ciccio C3 Carciofo.
  12. Fernet.
  13. Old coffee. Not sweet. Prune? Don Ciccio Ferro-Kina.
I was thrown off a little, because Averna is one of my favorites and in that context it tasted very sweet. I'd recommend you try the Braulio and both Lucano varieties, Sibilla and Dell'Erborista if you like alpine style amari, and Montenegro just because it's freakin' delicious, even though it's lighter and less sweet than Averna.

And if your location is still correct and you're in DC, you should go to Don Ciccio and try all their stuff there. The Ferro-Kina was very much not my thing (Ferro as in iron, as in it tasted like metal because iron is actually involved in its production) but the C3 Carciofo was really good. If you like really sweet amari you may like their Amaro Delle Sirene, which hit me as too sweet, but with a decent flavor profile otherwise.
posted by fedward at 7:45 PM on March 13, 2018 [12 favorites]

Montenegro is delicious. I am a BIG fan of Braulio. It's piney and minty and very refreshing.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:12 PM on March 13, 2018

Surprised not to find Ramazzotti, Unicum and Petrus among the answers. And Fernet Menta, the menthol version of Fernet Branca; if you are thinking it's a "lite" version (like menthol cigarettes), you're in for a big surprise. It has a colour which must have been created by Old Nick himself, and a taste to match.
posted by aqsakal at 3:46 AM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don Ciccio right here in DC makes Luna Amara which is quite good as well as some other neat drinks. I was surprised to see their stuff offered at a fancy cocktail bar in Chicago! They have a tasting room.
posted by exogenous at 5:21 AM on March 14, 2018

Two left-field suggestions:

1) Margerum winery in Santa Barbara makes their own amaro (which they call, um... amaro). It's on the fruitier side, very easy drinking. Friends of ours who generally don't like, say, Fernet will drink this happily.

2) Have you tried German bitter liqueurs? Killepitsch is the official drink of Dusseldorf and shares a lot of characteristics with bitter amaros; it's on the licorice/menthol side of things.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:17 AM on March 14, 2018

Amaro D'Abruzzo Jannamico was my sweet gateway to amari. I'm also partial to the aforementioned Ciociara and Vecchio Amaro del Capo.
posted by romakimmy at 6:23 AM on March 14, 2018

I also recommend Nonino.
posted by ourobouros at 6:38 AM on March 14, 2018

Oh yeah, we also have Ramazzotti and Vecchio Amaro del Capo on our shelf. Ramazzotti is stylistically similar to Averna (color, viscosity, general profile) while the Vecchio Amaro del Capo is one of the sweetest amari we own and is lighter in color, closer to Montenegro.

Another one we really like is Bigallet China-China Amer. It has a medium body which is more comparable to Cynar than Averna, and it's in a French style with quinine and strong notes of orange. It's delicious, but it's not really similar to Averna.
posted by fedward at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2018

If you want to try something a little more fruity, Mondino is lovely and rhubarb-y. I wouldn't say it's sweet but it's quite balanced.

No one has recommended Santa Maria al Monte yet: it's one of my favorite amari for mixing. A little medicinal, a little spicy.

Also this thread is great and I'm going to bookmark it for the next time I hit up my local amaro cocktail bar, thanks.
posted by torridly at 8:23 AM on March 14, 2018

I too came here to say Amaro Meletti -- when you say "I enjoy the chocolate and coffee notes of Averna", it's the first thing that comes to mind. It is much closer to Averna than, say, Cynar or Campari, but it has more pronounced chocolate, orange zest, and saffron flavors. I love using it in rye cocktails. (It's gotten hard for me to find locally, so I usually bring some home when I travel.)

After that, seconding Braulio. Killepitsch is also worth trying, though it's less similar to Averna.

komara said, "I am here to argue against Meletti which to me tastes like either lilac or lavender": I just checked, and apparently it contains violet, though I've never picked that out individually -- it's just part of a complex foundation of supporting flavors to me.
posted by silentbicycle at 9:07 AM on March 14, 2018

Response by poster: You are all amazing! Rather than best answer everyone, I may come back and mark some once I've dived (dove? diven?) a little deeper into the world of rare amari. For now, thank you all. I can't wait to try your recommendations. And for the DC folks...Don Ciccio meetup y/y???
posted by capricorn at 10:02 AM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

> komara said, "I am here to argue against Meletti which to me tastes like either lilac or lavender": I just checked, and apparently it contains violet

Violet! I knew it was one of those flower things I didn't like. I can't believe my brain landed on lilac or lavender. I guess there's an 'L' in violet so that's close enough.
posted by komara at 11:17 AM on March 14, 2018

Montenegro, for sure - it's my tip top favorite.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2018

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