Your sweet tooth won’t be surprised to discover that Italian digestifs, known as amaro, were originally medicinal. Those who delight in complex flavor profiles will enjoy these singular specimens, all of which are now available locally.
Originally created to make quinine more palatable to soldiers fighting in the colonies, this modern Quinquina includes white wine infused with Cinchona bark, orange peel, wormwood, and other exotic spices, to create a digestif with a deep golden hue. $31.99 per 750 mL bottle, D.E.P.’s Fine Wine and Spirits, depsfinewine.com
Who knew that moscato wine infused with cardoon thistles could taste this good? Aged in oak barrels, the flavor is nutty butterscotch with some subtle incense. $7 per 2 ounce pour, Boca, bocacincinnati.com
This anise and saffron amaro makes a dignified appearance in Aaron Strasser’s Ferrara cocktail, which also includes Plymouth gin, Fernet Branca, orange zest, and a dash of bitters.$9 per cocktail, A Tavola, atavolapizza.com
Giuseppe Vajra’s Barolo Chinato
This estate Barolo is infused with quinine bark, yielding a big, meaty flavor with subtle, almost floral notes of clove and cardamom. Chinati were once a cure for the common cold as well as indigestion. $18 per glass, Red Feather Kitchen, redfeatherkitchen.com
Amaro Nonino “Quintessentia”
While technically a grappa, this grape brandy base, aged in French oak barrels and flavored with gentian, orange peel, rhubarb, quassia, and tamarind, is a fantastic after-dinner digestif. $48.99 per 750 mL bottle, The Party Source, thepartysource.com
Originally published in the May 2014 issue.
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