Amaro Obsession


Trentino Alto Adige

Aldeno TN

The term Sfumato derives from the Italian word “fumo” that means “smoke”.It is traditionally associated with a style of Renaissance painting characterized by subtle transitions between areas of dark and light. This speaks directly to the profile of this amaro, which marries a dark smokiness with nuanced bitter woodiness from alpine herbs, and notes of sweet alpine berries. The production of a rabarbaro (rhubarb) liquor by the amari and aperitivi producer Antica Erboristeria Cappellettidates back almost a century. The main ingredient is a special Chinese Rhubarb for generations grown in Trentino Alto Adige e Veneto, where it has long been used in a variety of amari.
AmaroSfumatoRabarbarooffers a taste profile that resonates with the character and history of the region.
Taste– delicate, sweet berry fruit and bitter rhubarb.
Aroma– fine bitter with a very persistent aftertaste.
Despite having existed for over a century in its native Trentino Alto Adige, Italy, Cappelletti Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is a relative newcomer to world back bars. Like most amari, Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is made by macerating a proprietary mixture of herbs and botanicals in a neutral spirit. But as a card-carrying member of the larger group of rhubarb amari, it’s Chinese Rhubarb that gives it distinctive smoky character.

The root itself is interesting, if you cut into a fresh Chinese Rhubarb root, it smells exactly like Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro. In cocktails, this quality translates to a smoky characteristic without the accompanying harshness of actual wood smoke. In other words, with Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro, you get the smoky flavor without the tannins.


Neal Bodenheimer, the owner of Cure and Cane & Table in New Orleans, likewise praises the amaro unique ability to add perceived smokiness without throwing a drink out of balance.

It’s fruity and smoky, but with an incredible drying quality that can clean up even the most unwieldy drinks.

In his King’s Cobbler, Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is paired with lemon juice and simple syrup for a fresh take on the cobbler. Where Bodenheimer uses Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro as a base, Abigail Gullo of Compère Lapin uses it as a modifier in her Manhattan riff, the Wry Smile, which combines rye whiskey, two types of amaro, vermouth and cream sherry. Still, she says:

the Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is the meat of this drink.

Meanwhile, Matt Piacentini, of New York’s Up & Up, leans on a hefty dose of smoke. He plays off both the 50/50 shot and the Champagne Cocktail in his Hug-Tight, pairing Sfumato with an equal measure of Mezcal and topping both with dry sparkling wine.

Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is brooding, smoky, woody and all things dark, like what would be in an Italian witch’s cauldron

says Piacentini, summing up the amaro modern mystique.

Matteo Zed[:]