All About Amari

Digestifs worth knowing about

My family has a word for that feeling one gets when they’ve over-consumed during a meal, "bluch." We’ve all been there, and it’s especially common this time of year when everything is so delicious. And plentiful. You just keep eating and drinking because hey, it only happens once a year, right? What’s a little more of this or that? Then before you know it, bluch.

The Italians know a thing or two about indulgences and living life to the fullest, which is why they figured out a way around this problem centuries ago and created the digestivo called Amaro. Amaro, meaning "bitter," is a concoction of herbs, citrus rinds, botanicals, and spices, all infused in alcohol or wine and finished with a bit of sweet syrup to make it all go down. The alcohol content may fall anywhere between 16 percent and 35 percent, and these are often aged for several months to a few years before release.

Amari (in plural form) were originally procured from your local Medieval pharmacist, but things have gotten easier, more palatable, and thankfully less leachy since then. The recipes vary regionally and the exact ingredients are often considered protective property, like KFC’s "secret herbs and spices" but with healthier intentions.

It can take some palate conditioning to get used to Amari’s bitter finishes, but it so rewarding when you get the hang of them. They really do help calm the stomach and aid digestion, too.

It has become more common as of late for restaurants, bars, and retailers to keep a good selection in stock. Amor y Amargo in New York City is a bar completely devoted to Amari, as well as their bitter cousins from around the world. More people have gotten keen on them not only as a digestif, but also for their cocktail possibilities. Here is a list of some favorites old and new and some ways to enjoy them even if you haven’t accidentally eaten ten Latkes.

Click here to find top picks of Amari.

— Amanda Schuester, The Spir.it 

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