When the air starts getting brisk, foodies start craving their favorite seasonal flavors — such as gingerbread, cinnamon, and other warming spices. But, if your go-to winter tastes are starting to get a little predictable, almond might be just the flavor to shake up the game. When you're looking to add a big almond flavor that's easy to incorporate, amaretto is the tool for the job.
Amaretto is an Italian almond-flavored liqueur often made from roasted apricot kernels. Almond extract is typically used for flavoring, and sometimes vanilla extract is thrown into the mix. This marzipan-esque spirit typically clocks in around 20%-28% ABV, but, some amaretti are even stronger, and others are completely non-alcoholic. The word "amaretto" comes from the Italian "amaro" (another class of liqueur) plus the suffix "-etto" meaning "little" — so "little bitter". It's a fitting name for this sweet, slightly bitter liquid, which is often used to add a mouth-watering almond flavor to cookies and the eponymous amaretto sour and godfather cocktails. It's sweet, nutty, accessible, and highly adaptable. Amaretto pairs well with cocoa flavors and fruitier notes. As such, this bittersweet (but mostly sweet) liqueur is just the ingredient to upgrade your winter drinks this holiday season.
Step Asides, Chestnuts — There's A New Winter Nut In Town
As a general rule, you can swap in amaretto pretty much anywhere you might normally use simple syrup in cocktails. Amaretto old fashioneds, anyone? If lighter spirits are more your style, put amaretto in an espresso martini for a sweet, complex digestif at your next dinner party. Or amp up a steaming spiced cup of cider with a little amaretto for some almondy dimensionality. For a richer, creamy, dessert-like sipper, try adding a splash to horchata, eggnog, or hot chocolate. To stay extra warm this winter, whip up double-boozy drinks, like amaretto hot buttered rum or an almondy hot toddy. Garnish with complementary, aesthetic spices like star anise, whole cloves, or even some roasted almonds. Amaretto would also be delicious in the chai-latte-style stowaway cocktail.
When it comes to choosing the right liqueur for you, try Caffo Amaretto, which is made in Calabria, Italy, and only uses Sicilian almonds, with a more marzipan-forward taste. Or, if you prefer less sweetness, Knight Gabriello Amaretto di Toscana airs a little more on the bitter side. You can also make a batch of homemade amaretto liqueur yourself with a simple combination of granulated and brown sugars, vodka, almond extract, and vanilla extract. If you go this route, you can adjust all the ingredients to taste for an amaretto with a totally customizable flavor profile.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.