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Entertaining
9 Amaro Cocktails That Are as Bitter as You

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For every sunny day that calls for sipping bubbly rosé outdoors, there’s a day that your palate simply craves something dark, bitter and complex. Often powerful enough to take hold of your senses with a neat pour, Italian amari are perfect for creating these deep, bitter flavors in cocktails, too. Here, nine deliciously bitter cocktails made with amaro.

MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

Swapping Montenegro for vermouth in a Manhattan transforms it into a darker, more complex, and definitely more bitter cocktail—but that’s not the only swap you can make. A Black Manhattan, the shadowy twin to the classic, can be made with any of your favorite amari, depending on how sweet or bitter you happen to be feeling.

The Essentials

rye
Averna
bitters
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There is no more recognizable bitter cocktail than the Negroni, and it’s all thanks to strikingly red Campari. Many are drawn in by the vibrant color, but only the truly bitter stay for round after round of its perfumy flavor. Variations like the Boulevardier and Old Pal have their time and place, but for our money, there’s no beating the original when the urge for bitter strikes.

The Essentials

Gin
Campari
Sweet Vermouth
PATRICK SPEARS / SUPERCALL

Bitter cocktails are an acquired taste, but they’re nothing compared to the off-putting power of Fernet Branca, which can be difficult for newbies to enjoy. The Hanky Panky is one of the few classics to successfully tame potent fernet using plenty of sweet vermouth and gin. It’s certainly bitter, but not nearly as dry or medicinal as a straight pour of the amaro—so it’s a good stepping stone for those curious about the flavor of Fernet Branca.

The Essentials

Gin
Sweet Vermouth
Fernet Branca
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

The Italian digestif Ramazzotti is often drunk neat because it’s loaded with enough herbs, roots and aromatic flavors to blanket your palate all on its own. Bitter notes of citrus peel shine through, along with dry spices like cardamom, cinnamon, myrrh and ginger. This two-ingredient highball lets the amaro do the heavy lifting, pairing those herbal tastes with sweet black cherry soda.

The Essentials

Ramazzotti Amaro
black cherry soda
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

While Amaro Averna—with its full-bodied citrus and caramel notes—isn’t as bracing as some of its Italian colleagues, its subtle bitterness becomes amplified when combined with reposado tequila and fresh espresso beans. Hellfire Habanero bitters pump up the character of the distinctive amaro even more, creating an eye-opening cocktail that’ll wake your palate right up.

The Essentials

Averna
tequila
espresso beans
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

A punch bowl full of rye would be awfully spicy if you didn’t have any bold, flavorful mixers to mellow it. The first step is adding an equal measure of Montenegro, which combines bitter citrus and coriander with the deep sweetness of red cherry. Black tea adds additional sweet-bitter notes in the background and smooths out the punch with the help of fruity Cognac.

The Essentials

Rye Whiskey
Montenegro Amaro
Black Tea, Iced
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

A bitter artichoke liqueur may not sound appetizing at first, but those who encounter Cynar’s addictive vegetal flavor often fall quickly in love with the thistle-forward spirit. The brand’s newer, bigger Cynar 70 is the star of this sparkling spritz, with dark rum and falernum for backup. The amaro infuses the fizz with mouth-coating flavors like licorice, clove, molasses and coffee.

The Essentials

dark rum
Cynar 70
falernum
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

Hickory smoke hangs over this cocktail, adding dry, charred tinges to Speyside scotch, nutty almond-flavored crème de noyaux, Angostura bitters and Luxardo Amaro Abano. The Luxardo spirit is middle-of-the-road in terms of bitterness, with citrus and woody spices that quickly absorb the smoke. It all tastes like a damp forest floor recently saved from a raging fire—in a good way.

The Essentials

Scotch
Amaro
Crème de Noyaux
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

This take on Milk Punch looks and tastes nothing like the creamy original. Aperol tinges a mixture of clarified milk, gin, absinthe and lemon. Because the whole cocktail is light enough for summer sipping, the mellow amaro is clear on the forefront with a dry citrusy backdrop and only a whisper of velvety dairy.

The Essentials

gin
Aperol
milk

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