Winterize That Cocktail With the Amazing Amari

Winterize That Cocktail With the Amazing Amari

Like putting away the flip-flops and taking out the boots, changing your cocktail wardrobe makes sense as winter nears. It’s easy to swap those martinis for darker, more brooding manhattans.

But many more options are opened up by using amari, the rich, bitter, herbal European-style liqueurs — before-dinner aperitifs and after-dinner digestifs — that have become more popular and widely available. This season, bartenders are combining them with brown spirits like dark rum, bourbon, rye and Scotch for autumn and winter drinks.

Clayton Rollison, the chef at Lucky Rooster Kitchen & Bar on Hilton Head Island, S.C., makes a variation on the Brooklyn cocktail with bourbon, amaro, maraschino liqueur, dry vermouth, blood orange liqueur and bitters. “Amari add structure and backbone to cocktails,” he said.

At the 18th Room, a speakeasy-style bar in Chelsea, Brendan Bartley, the bar manager, said, “A bar without amaro is a bar missing a limb. It’s the secret hidden behind some of the most iconic classic drinks, like the Brooklyn cocktail.”

Amari and whiskeys come into play in other inventive riffs on the classics. The Mull It Over, recently created by Jenny Schubert, the manager of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan, adds amaro and bourbon to what amounts to a mulled-wine recipe.

Among several cold-weather cocktails for the winter pop-up at the Williamsburg restaurant Sunday in Brooklyn is the Sleigh Ride, a complex and interesting take on Irish coffee, made with single-malt American whiskey, two kinds of amaro, coffee and Demerara (brown sugar) syrup, and crowned with whipped cream. (In addition to winterizing cocktails by using amari, many bartenders are replacing simple syrup with richer Demerara syrup. To make it at home, bring brown sugar and half as much water to a simmer, cook for a minute and then cool to room temperature.)

Another drink on the Sunday in Brooklyn list, a seasonally adjusted Negroni called Ugly Sweater Weather, keeps the gin but replaces the usual Campari with heavier amari, and includes amontillado sherry.

The Old Barbados, a cocktail at Saltine restaurant in Nashville, combines Amaro Montenegro with dark rum, Demerara syrup and Angostura bitters.

Sondre Kasin, the head bartender at Cote, a Korean steakhouse in the Flatiron district, says amaro is perfect for the colder months, to pair with flavors like honey, citrus and spices. Adding it, he says, is like seasoning food. “It enhances flavors and gives the drink more character.”

Recipes: Spiked Mulled Wine | Cold-Weather Negroni | Rum Manhattan-Style | Manhattan With Amaro and Cocoa

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