Amaretto and amaro are both Italian liqueurs. They have similar sounding names but they are not the same thing.
Amaretto is a sweet almond-flavored liqueur with a slight bitter aftertaste. Amaro is a category of liqueurs made from a variety of herbs, spices and other ingredients characterised by their bitter taste.
What is amaretto?
Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored Italian liqueur. It originates from Saronno, an almond growing region of Italy, just north of Milan.
What amaretto tastes like
The almond flavor that amaretto is famous for comes from an organic compound called benzaldehyde, which is created by peach stones, apricot kernels or bitter almonds depending on the brand.
The word amaretto translates as a little bitter, although amaretto today is predominantly sweet with a slight bitterness. It is made by infusing alcohol with herbs and fruit and adding sweetening agents.
How to drink amaretto
Amaretto can be drunk neat, on the rocks or used to make a mixed drink or cocktail to sip before or after dinner.
Disaronno is a leading brand of amaretto. The word Disaronno translates as from Saronno. Saronno, as already discussed is where amaretto hails from.
Disaronno was created in Milan in the early 20th century using a family recipe that was passed down through the generations. According to the Disaronno website, the recipe goes all the way back to the Renaissance.
The trademark Disaronno hammered glass bottle with a square cap was created in the 1970s by a master glassmaker from Murano.
Disaronno is amber in color and has intense aromas and sweet, fruity almond flavors.
Italian amaretto brands
The table below outlines Italian amaretto brands. It is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you some alternatives to brand leader Disaronno, as well as the range of prices and abv per 750 ml bottle.
As you can see below, prices can vary greatly, but the price is often a reflection of the quality of the ingredients used.
Cheaper liqueurs are often made with artificial flavors and sweeteners.
Please note that prices may vary and change over time.
|Knight Gabriello Amaretto||28%||750 ml||$21.99|
|Di Amore||21%||750 ml||$11.49|
|Regency da Vinci||28%||750 ml||$9.99|
|Vita Divine||21 %||750 ml||$8.99|
Easy amaretto recipes:
1.5 oz (45 ml) amaretto mixed with 5 oz (150 ml) of soda water/sparkling water over ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
This easy 2-ingredient cocktail mixes one part amaretto 1 oz (25 ml) with 2 parts whiskey 2 oz (50 ml). Pour over ice and garnish with orange peel.
Add 1 oz (25 ml) Amaretto to a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Top with fresh whipped cream.
What is amaro?
Amaro is a category or umbrella name for a type of herbal liqueur. It is a loosely defined term and there are dozens or possibly even hundreds of amaro with different ingredients and flavors.
Each region of Italy has its own unique amaro recipes, some dating back hundreds of years. Many started out as medicinal or health drinks.
Amaro is the Italian word for bitter and amaro are characterised by their bitter flavor profile.
Amaro liqueurs are made by infusing a base wine or spirit with botanical ingredients, such as herbs, spices, floral and citrus peel.
Some amaro are more well known, such as Aperol and Campari.
How to drink amaro
Amaro can be drunk neat, on the rocks or used to make mixed drinks and cocktails.
Italian Amaro list
As mentioned previously, there are probably hundreds of amaro made throughout Italy.
Most recipes are a closely guarded secret with only some ingredients revealed by their makers.
The table below outlines some of the most popular amaro, with some basic information: name, where they are from, color, basic flavor profiles, abv and price.
Prices are for 750 ml bottles, except for Cynar and Amaro Sibilla (both for 1 liter).
Please note that prices may vary and change over time.
|Aperol||Padua||Orange||Bittersweet with orange, roots, herbs||11%||$23.99|
|Campari||Milan||Red||Orange, herbs, floral, bitter aftertaste.||20.5-28.5%||$28.49|
|Cynar||Venice||Brown||Bittersweet artichoke-based, herbs and plants||16.5%||$27.99|
|Fernet-Branca||Milan||Brown||Herbs, roots, spices||39%||$29.99|
|Averna||Sicily||Brown||Bittersweet with orange, herbs and licorice.||29%||$28.99|
|Montenegro||Bologna||Brown||Bittersweet, citrus and herbal flavors||23%||$29.99|
|Ramazzotti||Milan||Brown||Bittersweet, herbs, spices, flowers and fruit flavors||30%||$22.99|
|Amaro Lucano||Pisticci||Brown||Bittersweet blend of 30 herbs.||28%||$31.99|
|Amaro Sibilla||Marche||Brown||Bittersweet, herbs, dried fruit, coffee and honey||34%||$49.99|
|Knight Gabriello||Tuscany||Brown||Bittersweet, made with 27 different herbs||30%||$23.99|
Can I replace amaretto with amaro?
Most amaro do not have almond flavors and are not as sweet as amaretto. There are many brands of amaretto on the market, so it should be possible to find one.
Failing that almond syrup makes a good alcohol-free alternative to amaretto. Almond syrup is also easy to find.
Add a dash of vodka or another neutral liquor if you want to keep the alcohol kick.
Can I replace amaro with amaretto?
Amaro is not as sweet as amaretto and, generally speaking, does not taste of almonds. So, depending on what you are using it for, you will need to judge whether it will work with the other ingredients in your recipe.
Is there an alcohol-free amaro?
Amaro Lucano Zero is an alcohol-free version of Amaro Lucano.
Can I use Disaronno instead of amaretto?
Yes, Disaronno is a leading quality brand of amaretto.