The Masterpiece of My Booze Career (So Far)

Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2013

Mama Beth's Winter Amaro

Since I am crazy about Amaros, I made my own. I can’t believe how good it tastes for my first time out the gate! I looked at a few recipes, and did some reading about Amaros on the internet. One of the ideas that stuck with me was to use ingredients from where you live. That whole terroir concept – capturing the essence of your land. That sense of place. So I trotted outside to our garden with a bowl and a pair of scissors, and cut sprigs of whatever herbs were still surviving at the end of January.

Into a jar of vodka went a bay leaf, sprigs of thyme, sage, rosemary and mint. I had dried some lemon verbena leaves, fennel seeds and nigella seeds at the end of last summer, and added them. Then I got sick for a week, and my herbs infused away on their own. When I tasted it after the first week, I decided I would have to expand my terroir to the spice drawer. I wanted more punch and depth of flavor. So I cheated and added clove, allspice berries, cinnamon, cardamom and grains of paradise. Plus the rind of a tangerine.

Six weeks after I started, I have an enticing, bitter, herbal Winter Amaro. I’ll strain it now, and add just a touch of turbinado simple syrup to make it even more lip-smackingly good. I’m looking forward to making more Amaros for the other three seasons. By summer and fall, I will have dozens of herbs, berries and edible flowers to harvest from our cocktail garden for more complex Amaros. No need to crack open that spice drawer.

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