Looking for a sweet, nutty, and slightly bitter undertone for your cocktail drink? Then you cannot go wrong with Amaretto. This popular liqueur has a luxurious sweet almond flavor with a color that of molten amber.
Though it essentially tastes like almonds, some often use apricot or peach kernels instead. With a history that dates back centuries, Amaretto is considered a pride of Italian liqueur.
What is Amaretto?
Amaretto in Italian translates to “little bitter”, which comes from the distinctive flavor of mandorla amara or the bitter almond. This bitterness is not overpowering and is enhanced by sweeteners such as brown sugar or sweet almonds to temper the liqueur.
Certain brands of Amaretto infuse extracts such as vanilla or other herbs to add a balanced flavor. While burnt or dark sugar is combined to bring out the notable amber color in the liqueur.
This famous aperitif is versatile and can be used to make sophisticated cocktails, desserts and also in mouthwatering cuisines. A popular Italian sweet – Amaretto cookies, is a testament to this age-old prominent spirit.
History of Amaretto
The history of Amaretto is shrouded in mystery. Despite this, its origins hold a sentimental value to the people of Saronno and their culture. Two Italian families stake claim to the legacy of Amaretto. These brands are popular even today in producing exquisite Amaretto liqueur.
The first version states that Amaretto was first created in 1851 by the Lazzaronni family in Saronno, Italy. The family has a long history of selling Amaretto cookies and found that they could also infuse them in liqueur. It fostered a unique concoction of sweet almond-flavored spirits. This liqueur is marketed today under the label Lazzaronni Amaretto.
The second claim dates back to 1525 during the Renaissance period. A church in Saronno commissioned a painting of the Madonna; the responsibility was given to an artist by the name of Bernardino Luini, who was a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci.
In need of a model for creating his painting, a young local widow who was an innkeeper agreed to pose for him. When the time came to part, she gifted Luini a liqueur with apricot pits soaked in brandy. It was supposedly the first Amaretto liqueur to be produced.
As most Italian traditions go, the recipes were handed down to generations and became Amaretto di Saronno Originale. The name was shortened later to Amaretto Disaronno and finally settled to Disaronno Originale in 2001.
It was not until 1960 that Amaretto was first introduced in the United States. Its popularity grew widespread, and by 1980; it dominated the liqueur scene coming only second to Kahlua. April 19th is celebrated as National Amaretto Day in the US.