Amaro Obsession

10 BEST ITALIAN BITTERS BY AMARO OBSESSION

Il Bitter is a liqueur of oriental origin, once considered a real elixir against the physical illnesses of the period. Later it spread throughout Europe thanks to the trade between Italy and the East. Today Bitter is a low-alcohol drink with excellent fresh and thirst-quenching properties. Many would never imagine it but also the Bitter, the red liquor that you use in your Negroni, is to be considered part of the Amaro. Yes, Bitter and Aperitifs use many of the same ingredients and methods of producing an Amaro, but their colour is the first thing that sets them apart from the Amaro World. Aperitifs and Bitter are typically orange or red and are traditionally eaten before dinner as an aperitif. Usually lighter and lower in alcohol content thanAmaro (although some Amaro have a volume in alcohol as low), they are rarely drunk alone, instead of mixed with soda or sparkling wine. Personally, we have often been corrected by Italian colleagues who have assured us with the utmost certainty that a Bitter liqueur as one of those we are going to present today in our personal ranking is not an Amaro, but a BitterWe are sorry, but also by comparing ourselves with various producers and with Sother Teague, the owner of Amore y Amargo , the beloved Amaro bar in New York City, we have come to the conclusion that the ingredients are similar both for preparing an aperitif liqueur and a digestive Amaro.

Bitter is absolutely an Amaro. Making these stupid differences in nomenclature only creates confusion in the complex world of Amaro World. AnAmaro can be both an aperitif and a digestive.

The greatest connoisseurs of the world industry agree in saying that to define an Amaro aperitif or digestive is mostly a psychological factor and botanical composition, the things that are drier and have more citrus can be better as an aperitif, something sweeter with more caramel burnt can be better as a digestive, of course, as we said, the botanicals that compose them have different functionalities in the body: eupeptic or stimulation of appetite. Today, after analyzing and tasting many of the Bitter in circulation, Amaro Obsession has drawn up a very personal ranking of the best 10 Bitter Bitters on the market that takes into account both the organoleptic and tasting terms and the commercial and business ones.

10. ETNA BITTER – ROSSA SICILY

Rossa Sicily, a young and modern company founded by Giuseppe and Edoardo, was founded with the aim of enhancing the Sicilian territory and its most significant products: the red oranges of Sicily. In fact, Rossa was born from the passion and boundless love for Sicily of two enthusiastic entrepreneurs and friends, who with enthusiasm ventured into a project with a Sicilian flavour. Thanks to a catchy and fresh marketing, innovative packaging, but above all to its unmistakable aroma of red-orange, which expresses Sicily and its wonderful citrus fruit in a sip, the Amara Liquor immediately gathers numerous consents both in the national and foreign field. Made with wine from Carricante grapes, Zagara honey obtained on the slopes of Etna, infusion of IGP red-orange and aromatic herbs, Etna Bitter is the refined and original alternative at the time of the classic aperitif. Ingredients such as citrus from Sicily, almonds and honey make it a captivating product, a very citrus Bitter of amber color, not too bitter to consider a Bitter liquor in the true sense of the word, certainly bivalent also as an excellent aperitifliqueur, for us better exploited as an ingredient for a Spritz instead of a Negroni, even alone with a bit of Seltz works well!

9. ROSSI D’ANGER BITTER

The Rossi d'Angera company produces grappa and liqueurs in Angera, on the shores of Lake Maggiore for over 160 years. Present on the local and international market, the Rossi d'Angera distillates contain a very high quality of craftsmanship and a long history of Italian excellence in the high-end distillates sector. With the New Millennium, Rossi d'Angera starts a process of restyling all products and proposes the new Luxury line: hand-crafted grappas and liqueurs strictly linked to the individual production areas, able to express at best the typicality and personality of the different grape varieties , vintage reserves from the long aging in limited editions and an unprecedented proposal of spirits based on fruit that contain the flavors of the territory, preserving them in their biodiversity. Born from a recipe stored in the 1920s, in the full Liberty period, the Bitter signed Rossi d'Angera is produced by the family with the same artisanal method dating back 100 years. To create it, meticulously selected are the best official herbs and roots from which we obtain a fragrant infusion and combine it with the hydroalcoholic solution. In contrast to the most commercialized products, this ancient spirit with an Italian heart exploits its bitter notes to elevate the essence of all the selected botanicals without covering the nuances, thus reducing the sensation of astringency in favour of a fresher and herbaceous taste. It is therefore also an atypical Bitter , light in bitterness, with floral and vegetal notes, to be considered in mixing more like an aperitif than a Bitter. The price is slightly above average.

8. BITTER CAMPARI

The origins of Bitter Campari are located in a small bar in Novara: "the Coffee of Friendship" that in 1860 was bought by Gaspare Campari, who, in the following years, conceived and perfected the recipe, which has since remained unchanged. In the back shop, in fact, Gaspare Campari immediately set up a laboratory in which he created his elixirs (including Bitter for the use of Holland and the Cordial) and meanwhile, in the bar on the square met politicians, intellectuals, musicians, actors and the most enlightened bourgeoisie; Caffè Campari had become a fashionable place where the aperitif ritual was established. It is the most famous aperitif Bitter in the world, it is an infusion of good taste with herbs, plants and fruits (rhubarb and orange). It has an alcohol content of 25%. It is consumed mainly in aperitifs. It has a dark amber colour and is coloured through the carmine cochineal red (a natural colour obtained from ladybugs raised in Brazil for the sole purpose of extracting its colour). The processing stages involve infusing the herbs in water at 100 ° C; then add pure alcohol and leave everything to macerate. After this process, the herbs are separated from the liquid mass, obtaining an aromatic infusion of an alcohol content in a percentage of about 69% vol. The latter combines sugar syrup, distilled water, still alcohol and natural red colouring. Later, in 1882, the year in which Gaspare Campari died, his wife Letizia Galli, careless of the social formalities of the time, took over the reins of the family business and led her without delay until she was delivered, in full force, in the hands of his son David. A product that still works a lot because for a long time one of the few on the market and the great work of the marketing force has done the rest, but surely the average professional now wants something new that guarantees craftsmanship, and that can differentiate him from his colleagues.

7. BITTER SANTA MARIA AL MONTE – DISTILLERIA DEI DOGI

Produced by Distilleria dei Dogi, liquoristi dal 1858, distillers by vocation since 1962. From one generation to the next the know-how, intuitions, knowledge and skills acquired through years of passion are transferred, the company's strong point I am enthusiasm and experience. Quality, innovation, research, professionalism and passion are the distinguishing mark of the Distillerie Dei Dogi, now also consolidated by numerous partnerships with leading global companies. The liqueurs are alcoholic beverages obtained from the alcohol mixture with essential oils, or from cold maceration or from the infusion of alcohol with herbs or aromatic substances. The addition of sugar syrup and water allows obtaining the desired gradation. Among the specialities of the Dogi Distillery, you can find a brand new product this Bitter of the Santa Maria al  Monterange. Clean, citrus and pleasantly bitter. Orange, gentian root and wormwood are expertly blended to create a slightly bitter, plant-like liqueur. Its typical red colour ignites the passion for taste and love for sharing. Served cold with the addition of Seltz, also used in the preparation of cocktails and long drinks. A definitely rising product just entered the market, guarantees craftsmanship and Bitterness, even the packaging deserves attention.

6. BITTER ROUGE – RISERVA CARLO ALBERTO

Piedmont already in the first decades of 1800 was a force of ideas and facts. In the small kingdom of Savoy, all the Italian and European civil liberties of freedom and all the enthusiasm of the industrial revolution converged together. At the time of King Charles Albert, these tensions were on the skin; on the one hand the civil and commercial innovations were making Piedmont, the most advanced state of Europe, on the other the social principles found fertile support in the Masonic and esoteric movements that were already in Turin at that time the world capital of Magic and Alchemy . The ritual of Vermut, before meals, was the moment when all the innovative ferment met with vigor, sobriety and balance. We found ourselves in chocolates, in cafes, in restaurants, in pegs (vining where we ate) or in living rooms and it was the moment in which we discussed, with elegance of ways, politics, economy and spiritual values, finding one of their alchemical fusion that was the origin and origin of that liberal and secular movement that wants to make man and people noble and free; a spirit that, even today, crosses the lands of Piedmont and permeates our Vermut Riserva Carlo Alberto. The Vermouth (in Piedmontese for Vermouth) that the court chef prepared specially for King Carlo Alberto was considered a real delicacy and moreover, if he liked the King ... that was how their recipe was born. At that time Tumalin Bartolomé Baracco de Baracho, shopkeeper in fine wines of Alba, obtained that recipe and began an exclusive production that continued then along almost two hundred years and still continues and that he called, in honor of the King, Riserva Carlo Alberto. Now, in addition to Vermouth, many other products are produced such as the Bitter Rouge, a tried and tested product for a year, up to the final formula developed by Memfi Baracco with the help of a Master Distiller. Amaro Obsession had the good fortune to taste it again in experimentation back in 2011 from the hands of Memfi, eldest son of the Big Tiger Cherry, brilliant mind and head of the family. Red like cherries, with warm shades, like summer geranium. The taste is composed of exotic spicy spices and citrus scents, and is enriched with a sweet note of mou. Bitter Rouge has an intense flavor, slightly creamy but also dry and enveloping. The mouth remains fresh and clean; persists, light and reassuring, a touch of quinine bitter that continues and continues to stay with you. A great Bitter , slightly expensive, but the product and its quality deserve.

5. BITTER VERDE BORDIGA

This Piedmontese distillery was founded two centuries ago by Cavalier Pietro Bordiga, herbalist and connoisseur of the extraction techniques of essential oils. Over the years, recipes and processing techniques have been handed down with great care to the following generations; to preserve the uniqueness and the quality of handcrafted products, still today wood-burning stills are used, and master distillers personally control the hand-picked herbs according to seasonality. With an intense red colour, it is now re-proposed with the same recipe of the '50s and produced by hand with traditional ingredients. Bordiga has always offered a wide range of lively and always trendy products, such as this Bitter Verde. A Bitter that combines a unique flavour and a pleasant aroma thanks to the skilful blending of carefully selected aromatic herbs. A particularly herbaceous Bitter , created by selecting and mixing a mix of alpine herbs and other various botanical researches. Fantastic with a touch of soda and lots of ice for an aperitif in this hot summer. Surely a product that deserves attention, especially for the good creative and taste opportunities that this product offers in mixing, must be rewarded the hard work of Bordiga in the last 5 years to offer bar professionals new and important solutions to their work and should be rewarded the continuous research in the Amaro World and liquor to offer the market new and exciting products made with craftsmanship and passion.

4. BITTER BIANCO LUXARDO

Born from a dream come back from a trip to the United States, what Amaro Obsession considers to be the smartest product of the year. The dreamer is one of the coolest and most real characters in the World Industry: Mr Matteo Luxardo. Already in the Luxardo portfolio in the early 1900s in Zadar where the company was founded in 1821 by an initiative of the Genoese dealer Girolamo Luxardo. He arrived in Zadar in 1817 as consul of the Kingdom of Sardinia, where he opened a lace shop with his wife. Here the wife begins to produce a homemade Maraschino from an old monkish rosolio recipe. Maraschino which will become the best-selling Maraschino in the world thanks to a modified and improved recipe compared to the past. The Maraschino Luxardo is the first Maraschino to be produced with a maceration in two years in larch barrels, where the parts involved are for the first time also the petiole, the stem, the leaves and the branches of the plant of the Morello cherries and of course hazels and pulp of the fruit. At the end of the maceration the solid part is dried and distilled in a discontinuous distiller for 4 hours, the finished product is left to rest in cask for the remaining two years until it is marketed in 88 countries in the world. Maraschino is wonderful in the mouth and nose where the first hints are herbaceous and then the maraschino salt, this complexity makes the Maraschino Luxardo the perfect Maraschino par excellence. Matteo as the good Girolamo has a brilliant mind and a great spirit of observation, these qualities have led to the creation of a new Bitter Bianco different from the first product in Zara in 1920. The first Bitter Bianco Luxardo was produced and bottled after a long maceration while the current after a maceration undergoes a distillation at the end of which, to maintain the hint of bitterness, is added absinthe, the reason why we proceed in this mode is because the distillation takes away in part the Bitter note to the liquid. Luxardo uses a beet alcohol in which bitter herbs and botanicals including melon, Bitter orange and rhubarb are melted. The Bitter Bianco Luxardo is the first Bitter Bianco sold in America where Luxardo products are very popular also by the Jewish community because they respect the Kosher rules. Here the Bitter Bianco Luxardo is slowly replacing the Suze in one of the best selling recipes in U.S.A.: the Negroni Bianco, giving the cocktail a taste closer to the original Negroni and freeing it from the strong angelic aftertaste.

3. BITTER NARDINI

Distilleria Nardini born in Bassano del Grappa in 1779, is the oldest distillery in Italy. Behind the appearances of a company rooted in its traditions, however, the Nardini Distillery hides an innovative soul, promoter of artistic avant-gardes and novelties linked to good drinking. Bitter Nardini is one of the bittersweet aperitifs produced by Nardini, introduced as an alternative to Campari in 1779. It owes its tone to Ponceau 4R, a nanocomposite that makes the Nardini Amaro suitable for vegetarians, unlike coloured products with other ingredients such as Cochineal. The other ingredients that complete the composition are the sweet and Bitter orange peels, Chinese rhubarb root, gentian, vanilla and wormwood. Intensely citrus, so much to have the feeling of being next to a crate of fresh oranges, as you can perceive, pepper, cotton candy and vanilla with hints of citrus essential oils. In the mouth, Bitter orange jam. Not a classic Bitter in its composition, vegetal and herbaceous notes, finally a strange sweetness on the palate make it a product that positively moves away from the Campari prototype, great persistence in the mouth with a strong alcoholic note half-tasting. A product that should be awarded for its diversity, historicity and accessibility to the most diverse and current consumers with their food and allergic limits, therefore an ancient product, but totally open and accessible to the new.

Read our interview with Dott. Antonio Guarda Nardini.

2. MARTINI RISERVA SPECIALE BITTER

An unexpected novelty, a creation of the oenologist and Master Blender Beppe Musso and the Master Herbalist Ivano Tonutti, who have again offered their skills for an improvement on the market of a complete range entirely dedicated to Italian aperitifs, a two-year project with Vermouth Special Ruby Reserve and Amber Special Reserve. The Bitter proposes, not surprisingly, as their "ideal partner", the result of a completely new, rich and complex formula, at the base of which there is all the expertise of Martini in terms of distillation and infusion. Amber and ruby ​​natural color guaranteed by the cochineal and the bright note given off by saffron, citrus notes of Bitter orange, Bitter notes of Angostura and calumba, floral and spicy notes of saffron and rose, the touch of Italian artemisia: Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter (alcohol content 28.5 ABV) is striking for its density due to a generous percentage of sugar to bind the aromatic parts, the persistence and roundness of a sophisticated and delicate Bitter taste at the same time. Finally a highly qualitative Bitter , captivating and perfectly balanced in Bitter and vegetal notes, a product of the highest quality worthy of this brand that deserves a resurrection and a new cycle for never having stopped working, experiencing and believing.

1. GAGLIARDO BITTER RADICALE EXTRA – DISTILLERIA SCHIAVO

Gagliardo is strong in name and in fact. A craft Bitter and decidedly bitter. Radical, in some ways. We begin to see more and more often, in the bottles of cocktail bars. In a historical period where the art of blending is finding ample space, and angles are falling in the gloom (see the excellent work on Italian vermouth) there was a proposal of a craft Bitter with strong tones, here it is: a Bitter from Vicenza cochineal red color, which when tasted is a sign uppercut between the taste buds. To invent it, Marco Schiavo, the descendant of a historic family of Venetian grappa (the Schiavo family) based in Costabissara, a mad genius, creative and exuberant with a mind always at work, interviewed by Amaro Obsession a few weeks ago. Marco on that occasion told us that this Bitter was born from a challenge started two years ago: to make a luxury Bitter designed for mixing.

"Carlo Gasparin gave me the idea; Giacomo Diamante, the taste; Vito Lamanna, the name. It was a long experiment because there was no recipe, but we started with a completely empirical work methodology. We started from the cocktail, trying to mix tests on tests, until the achievement of our product, which lends itself well to the construction of the Italian aperitif ".

It can be served on the rocks with an orange twist but is widely used in the classic Italian mixing. As in the American or Negroni with the foresight to use a little less Bitter than the canonical dose one to one: an ounce of Gagliardo Bitter Radicale Extrais enough, for an ounce and a half of Vermouth.

Right on the American, we have done the most tests. We wanted to get a Bitterthat would counter the sweet and spicy notes of Vermouth and at the same time bring the right astringency, to increase the drink of the cocktail.

Today we reward the most radical version: Gagliardo Bitter Radicale Extra in limited edition, very powerful, which Marco has rightly realized by understanding that the Bitters on the market are too sweet and that even the most famous brands do not represent the bitter feature as they should. So, to be able to create a Cocktail Negroni as it once was and that can satisfy all fans of the original Bitter aperitif comes the Gagliardo Bitter Radicale Extra, which stands for Extra Amaro with a minimum amount of sugar that brings to mind old flavors of the beginning 1900, now forgotten and supplanted by the American sweetness that so many Italian companies follow to sell and enjoy overseas.

Read Amaro Obsession interview with Mr. Marco Schiavo.

Stealing the sentence of the bartender Massimo Stronati,

Italians do it Bitter!

Amaro Obsession

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