Amaretto is a popular Italian almond-flavored liqueur. Here’s more about it and the best ways to use it in cocktails!
It’s nutty, sweet, and got a little vibe of the 1970’s: it’s amaretto! This popular almond-flavored liqueur has been made in Italy for centuries, and it’s used in both desserts and cocktails. It became very popular in the US in the 1960’s, and since then has spawned a whole list of tasty cocktails. Is it worth adding to your collection? And what brand is worth buying? Here’s what you need to know.
What is amaretto?
Amaretto is an almond-flavored liqueur that originates from Italy, invented back in 1851. It tastes both sweet and bitter (amaretto means in Italian “little bitter”). It has such a distinctive flavor, once you’ve had it once: you’ll remember it forever. You may know the flavor from the popular amaretto cookies, a popular Italian sweet.
Though it tastes like almond, most often amaretto is not made with almonds. It’s made with the kernels inside apricot pits, which bring in that signature almond flavor! (This is also true about creme de noyaux, the almond-flavored liqueur responsible for the Pink Squirrel.)
Amaretto began to be imported to the United States in the 1960’s. By the 1970’s it had become very popular, and you’ll notice it in many cocktails of the era. By the 1980’s, it was the second most popular liquor in the US behind Kahlua.
What does amaretto taste like?
Amaretto tastes tastes rich and sweet, with a strong almond flavor, notes of vanilla and a subtly bitter finish. Quality brands of amaretto have a sophisticated and developed flavor; we recommend grabbing at least a mid-priced bottle. Low quality brands aren’t worth buying, as the flavor is overly intense.
How much alcohol is in amaretto? It is 21 to 28% ABV (alcohol by volume) depending on the brand, so it has a mid-ranged alcohol content. Compare it to 40% ABV for spirits like whiskey, rum, vodka and gin.
Why we like it
Amaretto might feel a little 1970’s, but we’re fans of its sweet almond flavor. It’s at its best in a classic Amaretto Sour, combined with bourbon and fresh lemon. Remember: a little goes a long way!
How much does it cost?
Compared to other liquors, Amaretto is mid-priced. Quality and pricing varies, from about $10 to $20 for a 750 ml bottle.
What are the best brands? Avoid the brand DeKuyper. Consider Lazzaroni amaretto, which is a nice mid-priced option. Amore brand is classic and works as a lower-priced option.
Most popular amaretto cocktails
You can drink amaretto straight up, or mix it into cocktails. Here are the most popular cocktails with this liqueur, then check below the list for a few more ideas.
The classic! Are you burned from those syrupy amaretto sours made with sweet and sour mix? Let us be the first to convince you: made correctly, this drink can be one of the best cocktails out there. Bourbon and fresh citrus make the perfect amaretto sour.
Amaretto and coffee are the perfect pairing! The amaretto adds a nuttiness and spice to the bitter coffee. Top with frothy whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Amaretto Stone Sour
Here’s one of the most refreshing, citrus-forward amaretto drinks there is: the Amaretto Stone Sour! The stone sour is a sour made with orange juice! It’s light and refreshing, perfect for sipping at brunch or on a lazy afternoon with a book.
The Italian margarita is a fusion of the best of Italian and Mexican cuisines. This spin on the classic cocktail swaps out orange liqueur for amaretto, and the almond essence adds a distinctly Italian vibe.
This Italian liqueur is also included in the following drinks:
- French Connection: Mix it with Cognac for a 1-minute drink
- Toasted Almond: Add Kahlua and vodka for a creamy after dinner drink
- Godfather: Mix it with Scotch for another easy cocktail
- Alabama Slammer: Mix sloe gin, orange juice, and bourbon
- Amaretto Whiskey Sour: Add more whiskey for an even more balanced sour
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 drink 1x
Here’s the perfect amaretto sour recipe that will impress everyone! It’s got just the right balance of amaretto with bourbon and lemon.
- 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) amaretto
- ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) bourbon whiskey
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup or maple syrup
- 1 egg white (optional)*
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- For the garnish: Cocktail cherry or Luxardo cherry, lemon slice
- Add the amaretto, bourbon, lemon juice, syrup, egg white, and bitters to a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake for 15 seconds.
- Add the ice to the cocktail shaker. Shake again for 30 seconds.
- Strain the drink into a glass; the foam will collect at the top. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.
*Substitute 2 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) for a vegan variation.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Cocktails
- Diet: Vegetarian
More cocktail guides
Need more liquor guides? We’ve got them! Here’s all you need to know about home bartending:
- Absinthe Guide This formerly banned liquor is now in good graces.
- Aperol Guide and Campari Guide All you need to know about these Italian liqueurs.
- Baileys Guide All the ins and outs of Irish Cream.
- Chartreuse Guide This pale green liqueur is worth adding to your collection…here’s why.
- Cointreau Guide, Blue Curacao Guide, or Orange Liqueur Guide Citrus liqueurs…broken down.
- Galliano Guide Is this bright yellow liqueur worth buying?
- Grenadine Guide It’s mistaken as cherry, but this bright syrup has a secret.
- Kahlua Guide Learn about this popular Mexican coffee liqueur
Is Amarretto a good substitute for creme de noyaux in PINK SQUIRRELS? Creme de noyaux is impossible to obtain here. A liquor distributor here advised “Use Amaretto for pink squirrels instead.”
Hi! Yes, it is hard to find. It would be a good substitute.
Very informative & helpful!