First of all I always love Amaro, when I was a kid in the south of France I saw every adults having it for aperitif. Since then I’ve got a special love for Amaros. About 2 years ago my friend Tyler Klindt aka “Butter Cup” (don’t ask…) got me hook on them again… Last week I went to Bitters & Bottles in South San Francisco and after closing my eyes, spinning around in a circle, and grabbing a bottle from the shelf, I landed on Amaro Lucano for this post. What’s this particular Amaro like? (Hint: it’s bitter and sweet ;))
I have a fair number of Amaros in our liquor cabinet. Nowhere near the supposed 800+ that are available in Bitters & Bottles, but a decent number. They all have unique flavors, and while very tasty on their own, make for interesting mixers as well. First up, we tasted the Lucano to see what it has to offer.
- Nose: Aromatic wood like sandalwood, resiny notes like myrrh, allspice, bitter herbs, gentian root
- Palate: Front is sweet like root beer with an undercurrent of intense earthy bitterness. Mid-palate is less bitter, with allspice, resin, and hints of perfume-y herbal notes. Bitterness returns on the finish, but it is herbal bitterness vs. the earthy notes of the intro. Also hints of citrus peel and caramel. Notes of camphor throughout. Aftertaste is green, bitter wormwood.
But how well does it mix? Given the range of flavors it offers, especially the earthy/root-y/resin-y qualities, we thought it might pair well with more dusty, mineral-y spirits like tequila or mezcal. First up, we tried it with mezcal and it paired brilliantly. So well in fact that we didn’t even bother with trying it with tequila, which is rare for us. The pairing of the Lucano and mezcal seemed to actually amp up the mezcal flavors, which was very interesting. We then searched for some secondary flavor to add. We tried a bit of cassis but the berry notes weren’t quite what we were looking for. Then we tried a bit of St. Germain thinking that the floral/grapefruit flavor would go well. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t additive. Next up we tried Cointreau. That was the ticket. The citrus notes of both the Lucano and the Cointreau combined to make something very smooth and approachable. A dash or two of orange bitters helped round things out and added a nice bit of depth. Perfect.
- 2 oz mezcal
- 1 oz Amaro Lucano
- 3/4 oz Cointreau
- 1-2 dashes orange bitters (I used the Bitter Housewife and went heavier, adjust to whatever you are using)
Stir with ice. Strain into a glass. Enjoy!
- Nose: Orange, dusty, mineral-y mezcal. Dry dusty sage brush. Tiny hint of earthy bitterness.
- Palate: Cool vegetal notes like cucumber on the very front, followed by sweet orange, dry sage, and slate. Mid-palate is drier with slightly funky tar notes like asphalt (but in a good way, seriously) alongside bitter green herbs, camphor, and resin. Finish is sweet again with earthy, smokey and perfume-y herbal notes.
So there you have it, another outstanding Amaro that you might want to noodle around with. Until next time, cheers!