Amaretto is a traditional Italian liqueur that lends itself to many dishes, drinks and cocktails. It is a very sweet and smooth cordial with an almond flavor. Surprisingly, no almonds are used to make amaretto. Rather, the marzipan-like flavor is achieved through apricot kernel oil, burnt sugar and a variety of spices.
The word amaretto means “slightly bitter” or “a little bitter,” which refers to the occasionally bitter aftertaste of amaretto. However, the bitterness is not unpleasant.
This tasty liqueur is often associated with amarettilittle Italian cookies that are sometimes flavored with amaretto.
History of Amaretto
Though only imported to the United States since the 1960s, amaretto dates back to the 16th century in Italy. The Disaronno family lays claim to being the originators of amaretto. Formerly sold under the label “Amaretto Disaronno,” “Disaronno Originale” is the current name of this signature beverage.
The Disaronno family legend is that the artist Bernadino Luini, an associate of Leonardo Da Vinci, traveled to Saronno in the north of Italy. While there, he met a stunning widow who he asked to be his model for the Madonna in his “Adoration of the Magi” fresco in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church of Milan.
These artistic sittings letd to a torrid affair between the widow and the artist. She expressed her affection for Luini by creating the first ever amaretto for him: a blend of brandy, apricot kernels and a secret mix of spices.
Amaretto is delicious neat (by itself) and on the rocks (over ice). Because of amaretto”s smoothness, it also lends itself to many different cocktails. Here are a few drink recipes that will teach you how to make some popular amaretto drinks, as well as how to make an amaretto sour.
Amaretto Sour Recipe
The original Amaretto Sour recipe was created with equal parts amaretto and lemon juice over ice. Currently, most bartenders use sour mix to make the drink.
- 2 parts sour mix, lemonade or fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 part amaretto.
Mix liquids together and pour over ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry or an orange slice.
This is a classic amaretto cocktail.
- 2 parts scotch
- 1 part amaretto.
Stir together and pour over ice.
Amaretto and Cream
This rivals the amaretto sour for most popular amaretto cocktail. To make amaretto and cream, simply mix equal parts cream (or half-and-half) and amaretto. Pour over ice.
Amaretto is also delicious in coffee, hot cocoa and black tea.
Amaretto Food Recipes
Because of its sweetness and nuttiness, amaretto can add unique flavor to many different deserts. In most cases, you can substitute amaretto for almond extract (and vice versa). It is particularly good with cream, dairy-based deserts and anything with almonds.
Take your favorite cheesecake recipe and dress it up with amaretto by adding one to two tablespoons of amaretto to the egg mixture. You can also grind almonds into the crust mix for an extra nutty flavor.
Keep in mind that amaretto can be added to many cake recipes, not just cheesecake. For example, adding amaretto to a regular pound cake recipe can instantly help you create a new amaretto cake recipe.
Amaretto and Ice Cream
Though simple, this recipe is absolutely delicious. Drizzle warmed amaretto over a bowl of your favorite ice cream and enjoy.
How to Make Homemade Amaretto
Though amaretto is readily available at nearly every liquor store and supermarket, it is sometimes fun to make your own. Here is a recipe for homemade amaretto.
- 1 ? c. granulated sugar
- 1 ? c. packed brown sugar
- 2 c. water
- 4 c. vodka
- 1/3 c. almond extract
- 5 tsp. vanilla extract.
Dissolve both sugars in water in a pan over medium heat. Cook until boiling and all sugar is dissolved. After allowing the mixture to cool, add vodka, almond extract, and vanilla.
This makes a great gift when packaged in a decorative bottle.